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Paris police arrest 200 after violent May Day riots

May 1, 2018

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Media captionCars were set ablaze and shops wrecked by masked and hooded rioters

Police in Paris have arrested nearly 200 masked demonstrators who smashed shop windows and torched cars during annual May Day protests.

Far-left anarchist groups, known as Black Blocs, hijacked a peaceful rally against President Emmanuel Macron’s public sector labour reforms.

Police said about 1,200 masked and hooded protesters attended the annual 1 May demonstration by labour unions.

Paris police arrest 200 after violent May Day riotsParis police arrest 200 after violent May Day riots

Four people, including a police officer, were lightly wounded.

The protesters were swamped with teargas and sprayed with a water cannon in an effort to disperse them.

Image copyrightEPA
Image caption Protesters wore protective masks against tear gas

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption They pulled down signs and clashed with officers

The black-clad protesters attempted to hold up the demonstration march, before smashing shop windows along the route and torching a McDonald’s near Austerlitz station.

Various vehicles and a car dealership were also set ablaze, and graffiti was scrawled on walls.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the protesters for covering their faces.

“When you have sincere convictions, you demonstrate with your face unmasked,” he said. “Those who wear hoods are the enemies of democracy.”

Image copyrightEPA
Image caption A protester holds the French Tricolour with an anti-Macron slogan outside a destroyed McDonald’s

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Other demonstrators rallied against public sector labour reforms

There is widespread discontent in labour unions over Mr Macron’s reforms. Rail staff have begun three months of nationwide strikes over a planned overhaul of state-run railway SNCF.

Tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and other workers joined the rail staff on strike in March. The president has said he will not back down on his agenda.

Unions said the number of peaceful protesters at the main demonstration on Tuesday was about 55,000. Police put the number lower, at about 20,000.

The protest was small compared with the 223,000 people who turned out in Paris in September to protest against the planned reforms.

Image copyrightEPA
Image caption Pedestrians look at a destroyed McDonald’s near Austerlitz station

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption A torched van and scooter in central Paris

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