May 1st: Tense Situation in Paris between Black blocs and Police

General News
May 1st protests, tense situation in Paris

While thousands of people demonstrate throughout France on the occasion of Labour Day, May 1st,  scenes of violence were observed in the capital.

Thousands of people demonstrate throughout France Wednesday, May 1st, 2019. In Paris , the atmosphere is very tense and clashes between “black blocs” and police took place in Paris. A situation that contrasts with the good-natured atmosphere in the region.

The Paris union mobilization for the Labour Day began around 2.30 pm at the call of the CGT in particular, but by 10am the first yellow Vests had started to flow to Montparnasse, at the beginning of the course which is to end place of Italy.

A person dressed in black and hooded launches stones on the windshield of a van, before the start of parades on May 1st in Paris.
A person dressed in black and hooded launches stones on the windshield of a van, before the start of parades on May 1 in Paris. (© AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI)

An injured, Philippe Martinez

At midday, among the protesters, hundreds of hooded and black-clad radical militants began chanting their usual slogans, such as “everyone hates the police” or “ah ah, anti, anti-capitalist,” before send projectiles to the police.

In a tense atmosphere, the CRS responded with tear-off grenades and tear gas. A protester was wounded in the head, according to an AFP journalist.


The general secretary of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, who had to make a speech, had to be exfiltrated by the members of security because of tensions with the black blocks.


He came back soon after.

165 arrests and 9016 checks

While the prefect ordered the closure of shops, tensions were particularly 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. This brewery was entirely covered with wooden panels, to avoid a fate comparable to that of Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysées on March 16th.


“They gave us measures that give 15 or 20 euros, thinking that it was enough as if we were beggars! Macron is not a head of state, it’s not a business leader, “says Pascal Thiberge, 59, Parisian, who did all the acts of” yellow vests “.

The ministry, which has deployed more than 7,400 police and gendarmes expects “1000 to 2000 radical activists”. Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron claimed that the response to “black blocks” is “extremely firm” after calls on social networks to turn Paris into “capital of the riot”.

In the late morning, the police prefecture reported 165 arrests and 9016 checks.


Often the scene of spectacular overflows since the beginning of the movement of “yellow vests”, the capital was squared by a strong security device, with early morning random checks of bags and vehicles. The district of Concorde and Champs-Elysees was totally cordoned off.

A few kilometres from Montparnasse, Place de l’Odeon, the so-called “reformist” unions (CFDT, CFTC, Unsa), had mobilized in the calm in the morning.

Police officers in front of the restaurant La Rotonde, May 1, 2019 in the Montparnasse district in Paris.
Police officers in front of the restaurant La Rotonde, May 1, 2019 in the Montparnasse district in Paris. (© AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI)

“Give also to the Misérables”

Nearly 300 initiatives are scheduled to take place this Wednesday, according to the CGT.

In the regions, the labor day was celebrated in a festive atmosphere by trade unionists, “yellow vests” and politicians, but under police surveillance. Several prefectures have announced bans to march in the city center, as in Caen or Lyon.

They were 6200 in Lyon, 2400 in Montpellier, 1500 in Lille, 2100 in Besançon, 3400 in Nantes, 1600 in Strasbourg according to the police. In Bordeaux, unpublished, the march of May 1 had no route defined in advance. However, it was held in a happy atmosphere to the sound of djembe and whistles. Nearly 6400 union activists and 1300 “yellow vests” beat the pavement, the same source.

“No justice, no peace”, “The people hate Macron” or “Thank you for Notre Dame, but give to Les Misérables”, could one read in Lille on placards in the procession in which CGT flags were brandished , PCF or France Insoumise.

“It’s blurring the message”

In Rennes, where nearly a thousand people marched, Christian, a 52-year-old bookseller, came to “react to this antisocial policy that is breaking society. People like Macron call themselves progressives but they are regressors, “he says.

But unions fear that their demands will not be heard in the midst of the violence.

“It blurs the message,” said in the morning Yves Veyrier, the number one FO. “It’s a day of mobilization and it takes all its importance after the announcements of Emmanuel Macron who said, I understand you, I do not change anything,” said Philippe Martinez (CGT).

“I hope that tonight we will remember that trade unions have raised concerns, social demands and proposals,” said Laurent Berger (CFDT).

Disillusioned last week by the announcements of the President of the Republic, aimed at calming the grumbling of “yellow jackets” and valued by Bercy at 17 billion euros, unions demand including increased purchasing power. But once again, they manifest in a scattered order.

Last year, the demonstrations gathered 210 000 people in France according to the CGT, 143 500 according to the Ministry of the Interior. In Paris, the police had identified 20,000 protesters (the CGT 55,000) in the trade union procession and 14,500 non-processional members. Nearly 1200 radical militants had then disrupted the Paris demonstration.

Police run in front of vehicles of the CGT before the start of the parades of May 1st
Police run in front of vehicles of the CGT before the start of the parades of May 1st, 2019 in Paris. (© AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI)

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