Violence erupts across France on Black Thursday strikes as ‘Black Bloc’ anarchists torch buildings and raid shops

VIOLENCE erupted across France on Black Thursday as ‘Black Bloc’ anarchists lit fires, looted high-end stores and hurled fireworks at officers.

Police said 65,000 people took to the streets of Paris, and over 800,000 nationwide in aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to abandon pension reform.

French riot police clash with protesters today
EPA
There was chaos on the streets of France today as hundreds of thousands took part in strikes
EPA

EPA

Protesters hold smoke torches during a demonstration against pension reforms in Marseille[/caption]

EPA

Public and private workers demonstrate and shout slogans during a demonstration against pension reforms[/caption]

Protesters attack the boarded-up shop of a gold buyer
AFP or licensors

EPA

Unions representing railway and transport workers and many others in the public sector have called for a general strike[/caption]

A clip appeared to catch leaders including Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron speaking about Donald Trump
A clip appeared to catch leaders including Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron speaking about Donald Trump

It comes just a day after Mr Macron was caught on a hot mic chatting about Donald Trump with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at a Buckingham Palace gala.

In the capital, authorities barricaded the presidential palace and deployed some 6,000 police as activists, many in yellow vests, gathered for a major march.

Cops were forced to use tear gas to disperse rioters who set fire to a vehicle and smashed windows as tensions heightened close to the Place de la Republique square.

There were similar scenes in Rennes and Bordeaux, where banks were attacked, and hundreds of rounds of tear gas were used by police.

Transport workers, teachers, postal workers, firefighters, medics and even lawyers were among those who took part in one of the biggest protests of its kind since 1995.

SERVICES ‘SEVERELY DISRUPTED’

The Louvre closed some of its galleries, and the Palace of Versailles shut down.

Subway stations across Paris closed their gates, high-speed TGV trains cancelled their runs, and nearly 20 per cent of flights at Paris Orly Airport were reported grounded.

Police ordered all businesses, cafes and restaurants in the area to close and detained 71 people before the demonstration even started.

Skirmishes broke out between police firing tear gas and protesters throwing flares in the western city of Nantes, and thousands of red-vested union activists marched through cities from Marseille to Lille in the north.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said she expects the travel troubles to be just as bad tomorrow, and unions said they will maintain the Paris subway strike at least through Monday.

I am not going to comment on stolen videos. That video wasn’t supposed to be filmed in that room


Emmanuel MacronPresident of France

It comes as Mr Macron, 41, hit out a “stolen” clip of him gossiping about Donald Trump.

When asked about the footage, he blasted: “I am not going to comment on stolen videos.

“That video wasn’t supposed to be filmed in that room.”

Trump gave Trudeau the cold shoulder and barely glanced around as the pair exchanged tense words onstage at the Nato meeting today.

Furious Trump responded by blasting the Canadian Prime Minister this afternoon – before leaving the Nato summit early and cancelling a planned press conference.

Asked by a reporter about the exchange last night, Trump blasted: “Well, he’s two faced.”

It came as:

  • Furious Donald Trump hit back at Justin Trudeau, calling him “two-faced”
  • US President fled the Nato summit early without holding press conference
  • Canadian PM Trudeau insisted he has a good relationship with Trump
  • Boris Johnson dismissed reports he were laughing at Trump as “nonsense”

Interior Minister Christopher Castaner warned that street violence was all but inevitable.

“We know that there will be a lot of people in the demonstrations and we know the risks,” he told the BFM news channel.

“I’ve asked that systematically, as soon as there is disorder, urban rioting, violence, we can react straight away.”

The strikes are specifically aimed at President Macron’s pension reforms.

So-called Yellow Vest protesters took part in the protests, as well as Black Bloc anarchists.

CHAOS CONTINUES

The Yellow Vests, who are named after their trademark bright yellow motoring jackets, have been behind some of the worst rioting in recent history in France.

The protests began in mid-November of 2018 over fuel tax rises but have escalated into expressions of wider discontent about President Emmanuel Macron’s policies

They have caused millions of pounds worth of damage to Paris monuments such as the Arc de Triomphe, as well as to the shops, banks, restaurants and cafes on the Champs Elysée.

A man stands on a traffic light during the Paris protests
AP:Associated Press
An overturned trailer burns on a street during clashes in Paris
Reuters
Protetors hold union flags during the demonstration to protest against the pension overhauls
AFP or licensors
A motor scooter was set ablaze in Paris during the strikes across France today
Getty – Contributor

AFP or licensors

People take part in a demonstration to protest against the pension overhauls, in Montpellier[/caption]

AFP or licensors

A protester holds a flare as he takes part in a demonstration to protest against the pension overhauls, in Saint-Denis de la Reunion[/caption]

AFP or licensors

A man wearing a clown mask and waving a smoke bomb takes part in a demonstration to protest against the pension overhauls[/caption]

EPA

Unions representing railway and transport workers and many others in the public sector are protesting against French government’s reform of the pension system[/caption]

The General Confederation of Labour – the largest trade union in France – said Macron’s pension reforms had triggered mass anger.

A spokesman said: “We have one of the best retirement systems in the world, if not the best.

“However, the president of the Republic decided, because of pure ideology, to annihilate it.”

POLITICAL UNREST

The independent Macron came to power in 2017, pledging to shrink France’s public services, and to make the private sector more competitive.

But the former merchant bank is now frequently referred to as the “President of the Rich” who is mainly on the side of big business.

The CGT spokesman said: “Everything about social issues, or about health, is now seen as an expense that needs to be reduced.”

He said that Macron was not showing enough interest in “protecting citizens from illness and misery.”

Macron wants to introduce a universal pension system, replacing 42 different schemes currently in place.


But the disruption could paralyse the French economy if a resolution is not reached.

A series of public sector general strikes in France in late 1995 saw transportation paralysed as millions took to the streets against cuts, including pension reform.

The strikes led to the then conservative President Jacques Chirac and his prime minister Alain Juppé withdrawing their reform plans.

EPA

It is estimated that just one in ten high speed TGV trains will be running across France[/caption]

Reuters

A protester holds a placard which reads: ‘I am an angry teacher’[/caption]

EPA

The General Confederation of Labour – the largest trade union in France – said Macron’s pension reforms had triggered mass anger[/caption]

AFP or licensors

Protesters are angry as Macron wants to introduce a universal pension system, replacing 42 different schemes currently in place[/caption]

Donald Trump looked uncomfortable as he shook hands with Macron yesterday
AFP or licensors


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