MNA International Desk: Hundreds of masked and hooded anarchists smashed shop windows, torched cars and hurled cobblestones at riot police on Tuesday, hijacking a May Day rally by labour unions against President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms.
Riot police used teargas and water cannon to disperse the protesters. Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said more than 200 demonstrators had been arrested and four people were lightly injured in the clashes, including a police officer.
‘I condemn with absolute firmness the violence that took place today and derailed the May Day processions,’ tweeted Macron, who was on a visit to Australia.
‘Everything will be done so that the perpetrators are identified and held responsible for their actions.’
Authorities said around 1,200 protesters, many garbed in black, had turned up on the sidelines of the annual May Day demonstration. The protesters were from far-left anarchist groups known as Black Blocs, police said.
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.’
Chanting anti-fascist slogans and waving Soviet flags and anti-government banners, the protesters smashed windows of businesses, including a Renault garage and McDonalds restaurant near the Austerlitz train station in eastern Paris.
They also ransacked shops and scrawled anti-capitalist graffiti on walls before eventually being dispersed by police.