By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
PARIS (Worthy News) – The French interior minister said Tuesday that Labor Day rioters seeking to “kill a police officer” had injured at least 406 police personnel in violent protests across France.
Gérald Darmanin added that some 540 people were arrested in France, including 305 in Paris, the capital, during the massive May 1 demonstrations.
The disturbances came on the annual Labor Day holiday came amid mounting public anger over President Emmanuel Macron’s pushed-through pension reforms.
Macron last month signed a law to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, despite months of strikes against the bill and by sidelining the National Assembly.
His plans passed in France’s Senate but had been due for a vote in the National Assembly (the lower house), where its approval was not guaranteed.
Instead, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced to the assembly that the government would trigger Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to push through the legislation.
Unions had been hoping for a huge turnout across France for the May 1 protests to defend France’s near-sacred pension system to upset Macron further.
The president has been greeted by pot-bashing and jeers as he toured the country seeking to defend the reforms and relaunch his second mandate.
But Monday’s protests involving at least hundreds of thousands of people turned into violence, with “259 police and gendarmes injured” in Paris, complained Darmanin.
“We must have the strongest criminal sanctions against those who attack the police,” he added, calling for an “anti-thug law.”
He added that there were also at least 61 demonstrators injured in France, including 32 in Paris.
Among the injured police and gendarmes, “three are in an extremely difficult situation, even if their vital prognosis is not engaged,” the minister said. He suggested that the policeman was nearly killed when he received a firebomb in his face. “The Molotov cocktail burned his face; he is still hospitalized,” he added.
DEPLOYING TEAR GAS
Police deployed tear gas in Toulouse in southern France as tensions erupted during protests, while four cars were set on fire in the southeastern city of Lyon, authorities said.
In the western city of Nantes, police also fired tear gas after protesters hurled projectiles, reporters said. The windows of the Uniqlo clothing store were smashed.
“Even if the vast majority of demonstrators were peaceful, in Paris, Lyon and Nantes, in particular, the police face extremely violent thugs who came with one objective: to kill cops and attack the property of others, Darmanin said earlier.
Protesters briefly occupied the luxury Intercontinental hotel in the southern city of Marseille, breaking flower pots and damaging furniture, according to witnesses.
Some 782,000 people protested across France, including 112,000 in Paris alone, the interior ministry said after Monday’s rallies. The CGT union claimed it counted 2.3 million protesters across France, including 550,000 in the capital.
On Tuesday, a tense calm returned tothe streets of France, but more protests were expected in the European Union nation of 68 million people.
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