Police teargas anarchists at Paris May Day rally, arrest over 200 people

Deanna Kelley
May 4, 2018

Paris Police Prefect Michel Delpuech said far-left anarchist groups, known as Black Blocs, hijacked a peaceful protest against reforms by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The announcement on Wednesday corrected an earlier figure of 209 given by Interior Minister Gerard Collomb.

Following a call on social media for a "Revolutionary Day", some 1,200 hooded and masked anarchists were gathered in Austerlitz bridge in eastern Paris on Tuesday.

The police used teargas and water cannons to bring the crowd under control.

The Reuters newswire service reports the remarks of police union official David Le Bars, who said the security service made a decision to let protesters smash buildings and burn cars rather than try to stop them, which could cause casualties on both sides.

"For the next demonstrations, there will be even more security forces, this time with the intention of totally separating protesters from those who have come to smash things up", he told France 2 television.

Collomb defended how the police had handled the demonstration on Tuesday, although opposition politicians criticized the government for not having done enough to prevent the violence.

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Macron responded from Sydney: "There is a government".

This video shared by eyewitness Conny Myhrberg shows protesters fleeing from police along Rue Lacépède in Paris. "There is a state that's being run and it will continue to react".

Protesters wear black clothing cover their faces with scarves, hoods, balaclavas and motorcycle helmets to hide their identities and lessen the effects of teargas.

Masked protestors, loot a MacDonald's fast food outlet during a demonstration on the side lines of the march for the annual May Day workers' rally, in Paris, on May 1, 2018.

Students have previously occupied several universities across France, protesting Macron's move to reform the education system, including introducing new admissions criteria and ranking young people who apply to public universities.

Each year, people across the globe take to the streets to commemorate International Workers' Day, or May Day.

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