Violent clashes mark May Day protests across Europe

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French CRS anti-riot police officers are engulfed in flames as they face protesters during a march for the annual May Day workers' rally in Paris on May 1, 2017. The march was disrupted as scores of hooded youths threw firebombs at riot police in full gear, who responded with tear gas and truncheons.

‘Radical elements’ disrupt processions in Paris, Lyon, thousands of police deployed across Germany against violent protests.

iots overshadowed a May 1 labor day demonstration in Berlin Saturday evening amid fierce street clashes between police and radical leftist militants, according to local media reports.

Black-clad protesters threw bottles, firecrackers and stones at baton-wielding police who tried to disperse the crowd with pepper spray and water-gun trucks.

Police officers were repeatedly attacked while trying to pull troublemakers out of the crowd as several protesters were arrested.
Dumpsters and pallets were set on fire in Berlin’s Neukoelln district as paramedics were on the scene to treat the wounded.

At least three police officers and several protesters were injured.

According to an initial estimate, police said around 5000 people marched in the May 1 demonstration, which began peacefully but later on turned violent.

Eyewitnesses on the site of the march, however, spoke of one of the largest revolutionary May Day demonstrations in recent years.

Organizers claimed the number of participants was more than 20,000.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets all over Germany to mark international labor day.

The May 1 demonstrations were organized by the trade unions and radical leftist and anarchist groups, but right-wing groups and critics of the coronavirus measures also met for both permitted and unauthorized protests across Germany.

Thousands of police officers were deployed ahead of and after the protests, with sporadic unrest emerging among both left- and right-wing demonstrators.

France

Thousands of people, labor unions and organizations joined the traditional May Day protest march across France — the first amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic — marred by clashes and vandalism in some areas, according to police.

In the cities of Paris and Lyon, processions were blocked by “radical elements” who attacked police and vandalized shop windows, commercial establishments and public property.

Paris police said it intervened after “a pre-procession made up of radical elements blocked the progress of the rest of the procession.” Interior minister Gerald Darmanin announced on Twitter that 34 people had been arrested after they came to interrupt the march instead of demonstrating.

In Lyon, 27 police officers were injured as a group of 200 protestors used mortars against them. Five were arrested for lighting fire and damaging street furniture in the city hub of Place Bellecour, local authorities said.

Elsewhere, more than 300 rallies, events and organized by the national labor and trade unions General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Labor Force (FO), Unitary Trade Union Federation (FSU) and Solidarity, were relatively peaceful and the atmosphere festive. Even with COVID-19 restrictions, demonstrators turned out in large numbers to march and demand employment, wage increases, social protection and improvement in public services.

“There is a great anger … against the backdrop of labor reforms such as the unemployment insurance, which has aroused discontent in the world of work, of the culture,” a statement from the CGT said. In October 2019, the Macron administration unveiled tough reforms, making it harder for unemployed people to claim state benefits.

More than 106,000 people demonstrated in France this Saturday, including 17,000 in Paris, the BFMTV network reported.

Europe

Similar rallies for International Workers Day were held across Europe, with curtailments due to the pandemic.

In Madrid, ministers joined demonstrators to march from the town hall to the city’s Puerta del Sol square, While in Berlin, thousands of protestors took to a bicycle rally in a protest against capitalism.

A Live musical concert with limited spectators was held in Rome with over 40 musicians, the first such event after lockdown measures were lifted last month, according to a report in the La Republica daily.