The above numbers are official. According to trade unions the actual turnout was twice as much.
More than 230 demonstrations were organized nationwide. All were peaceful, with the exception of Paris, according to French labour union CGT.
Riot police in Paris fired teargas as protesters threw stones and bottles at them. Paris police said they arrested 220 people and carried out more than 15,000 pre-emptive searches.
— RFI (@RFI) May 1, 2019
There were videos on social media of “black blocs” going through the protests, trying to escalate the situation. Some of which were arrested by police.
— Julia Dumont (@Julia_Dmt) May 1, 2019
— RFI (@RFI) May 1, 2019
“They want to prevent us from protesting, the march has dispersed because of the police charge. The want to divide the cortege in two,” prominent Yellow Vest protester Maxime Nicolle said. “The (Yellow Vest) movement will continue to go on this Saturday, and the Saturday after that,” he added.
— Laura Andrieu (@laura_andrieu) May 1, 2019
The CGT, one of France’s leading trade unions, has accused the police of throwing tear gas and stun grenades at its members, including its leader Philippe Martinez, who was forced to quit the Paris rally.
A Russian journalist, working for RIA Novosti said that she had been hit by police while covering the protests.
“The helmet saved me from serious injuries but my arm is still in pain,” said Viktoria Ivanova in remarks carried by Ria Novosti, adding that she was wearing “press” armbands and helmet when she suffered the blows. Russia’s foreign ministry has called for a thorough investigation of the incident, calling violence against journalists “unacceptable.”
The demonstrations subsided by the evening, while lasting almost throughout the entire day.
— mike woods (@mawoods) May 1, 2019
— Allan Kaval (@allankaval) May 1, 2019
Ahead of the May Day demonstrations, Paris police banned demonstrations in the Champs-Elysees avenue and the areas around the presidential palace and Notre Dame Cathedral.
More than 7,400 police and gendarmes were deployed across Paris alone, with orders from Macron to take an “extremely firm stance” if faced with any violence, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said on April 30th.
She said the measures were aimed at protecting peaceful protesters as well as shopkeepers and other citizens.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the authorities had found several groups on social media urging protesters to transform the city into “the capital of rioting.”
“Based on the information we have, 1,000 to 2,000 radical activists, potentially reinforced by individuals coming from abroad, who could try to spread lawlessness and violence,” he told a press conference. According to him many were anti-capitalist youths called “black blocs.”
Just a week earlier, on April 25th, French President Emmanuel Macron promised “significant” tax cuts and reforms after months of Yellow Vest protests, and after the government accepted a strict law against “violent protests.”
“I want cuts for people who work by significantly reducing income taxes,” Macron said at the Élysée Palace.
On the wealth tax cut, he said it would be reviewed in 2020, adding: “It was a reform to stimulate production, not a present for the rich.”
Macron said that he listened to the Yellow Vests, but accused other groups of hijacking the protests and causing “episodes of anti-Semitic violence, attacks on journalists and homophobia.”
“But I don’t want that the actions of some people eclipse the just demands that were put forward at the start of this movement and were broadly supported,” he said.
On April 27th, Macron’s “olive branch” was rejected by the protesters.
Following a particularly violent protest in March, the government fired the Paris police chief and adopted a “zero-tolerance” approach, later passing an “anti-rioter” bill granting greater powers to the security forces, which included making it a criminal offence to wear a mask at a protest.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Yellow Vest Protests Take Place for 13th Week in a Row
- Tom Luongo: “Globalism’s Last Disgrace: The Army vs. the Yellow Vests”