The demonstration of May 1st was peppered with violence in Paris, where clashes erupted between law enforcement and radical militants.
Between 164,000 and 310,000 people, union activists and yellow jackets, demonstrated Wednesday, May 1, 2019 throughout France. In Paris, clashes erupted and protesters briefly burst into a hospital.
In the capital, the mobilization for the Workers’ Day brought together 40,000 demonstrators according to a count realized for a media collective by the firm Occurrence.
CRS injured in the head
“It’s a great day of mobilization,” said CGT Secretary General Philippe Martinez, who had to be exfiltrated from the procession in the early afternoon after being attacked by radicals.
The Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, does not agree, saying the day was “stolen by the violence of a few,” during an early evening trip to the hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, where was admitted a CRS wounded in the head.
Ici, à la Pitié-Salpêtrière, on a attaqué un hôpital.
On a agressé son personnel soignant. Et on a blessé un policier mobilisé pour le protéger.
Indéfectible soutien à nos forces de l’ordre : elles sont la fierté de la République. pic.twitter.com/BjXYFw2XzR
— Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) May 1, 2019
“Shocked that the hospital can become a target”
Dozens of participants in the parade briefly burst into the hospital, and some even tried to enter a resuscitation service before being dislodged by the police, denounced the management of the institution, which will receive Thursday the visit of the Minister of Health, Agnes Buzyn.
On voudrait ne pas y croire. On voudrait se dire que la violence ne peut pas tout prendre pour cible.
S’en prendre à un hôpital est inqualifiable.
— Agnès Buzyn (@agnesbuzyn) May 1, 2019
Some of the intruders had “violent and threatening gestures”, told France Inter the director of the hospital Marie-Anne Ruder, who was present on the spot during the incident. The staff is “deeply shocked that the hospital could become a target,” she added.
Breakages and police violence
Broken windows, rain of paving stones, fires of bins, departures of fire, jets of tear, grenades of disenchantment, water cannons: even before the official departure of the Parisian procession, clashes took place between “black blocks” and police, before a return to calm in the early evening.
AFP journalists have seen demonstrators being treated by street medics. For the moment, no count has been made on the wounded, but images of police violence have turned on social networks.
allo @Place_Beauvau – c’est pour un signalement – 739
Coups violents et répétés sur manifestant n’opposant aucune résistance
— David Dufresne (@davduf) May 1, 2019
— David Dufresne (@davduf) May 1, 2019
While the prefect had ordered the closing of the shops, the tensions were initially concentrated around the restaurant La Rotonde, Macronist “symbol” where the candidate of En Marche had celebrated his qualification in the second round of the presidential election.
Then the procession, mixing trade union militants and “yellow vests”, started, traveling about 3 km to the Place d’Italie which gradually emptied from 7pm.
A stone’s throw away, a hundred people gathered in the evening in a relaxed atmosphere on the Place de la Contrescarpe -bucked by the police – for the “BenallAnniversaire”, some with a mask to the effigy of the former adviser of the Elysee, found an AFP journalist.
The ministry, which had deployed more than 7,400 police and gendarmes, was counting on “1000 to 2000 radical activists”.
The police headquarters reported 330 arrests in Paris (50 in the region) and more than 15,300 checks, and the prosecutor’s office 254 in police custody.
In Paris, Camille, 23, welcomed the “great convergence of struggles” made this Wednesday between students mobilized against the “reform Blanquer high school” and workers. The violence, “it has become usual since the labor law in 2016”.
Claims blurred by violence?
In the region, the labor day was celebrated in a festive atmosphere by trade unionists, “yellow vests” and politicians, but under police surveillance. Several prefectures have banned parades in the city center, such as Caen or Lyon.
They were 6200 in Lyon, 5500 in Marseille, 3400 in Nantes, 2400 in Montpellier, 2100 in Besançon, 1800 in Saint-Etienne, 1600 in Strasbourg, 1500 in Lille, 1400 in Dijon, according to the police, and up to 20 000 in Toulouse, according to the CGT.
Among the signs, one could read: “The people hate Macron”, “Thank you for Notre Dame, but give also to Les Miserables”, “Better to be a cathedral than a yellow vest”, “Macron stops smoking us”.
In Rennes, 42-year-old Fanny, a nurse’s aide and “yellow vest” from the beginning, deplores the fact that there are “no more posts in hospitals. The state is removing us posts, materials. We end up at 4-5 to manage 100 people. I am here for that and for my children.
Despite their mobilization – in dispersed order – the unions fear that their demands will be blurred amid the violence.