- The so-called Black Bloc anti-capitalist movement were involved in clashes with riot police this afternoon
- A total of 200 arrest were made in the French capital with huge parts of the city being placed on lockdown
- Some 7,400 police were on the streets for May Day, when workers traditionally protest against the ruling elite
- Bin and vehicles set on fire in barricades as rocks thrown at police who in turn use weapons on demonstrators
Rioting broke out in Paris today as thousands gathered for May Day protests dubbed ‘Armageddon’ by extremist demonstrators.
Thugs from the so-called Black Bloc anti-capitalist movement were involved in running battles with police soon after 1pm and by 2pm, there had been 200 arrests in Paris, most for public order offences related to the rioting.
Clusters of anarchists and Yellow Vest protesters disrupted the May Day rallies in Paris by throwing rocks, setting rubbish cans on fire and antagonising police riot squads.
Officers used tear gas, flash grenades and rubber ball launchers as troublemakers wearing black masks and hoods confronted them in the street and pelted them with stones and other objects.
The confrontations broke out near the start of the main May Day march near Montparnasse train station and started again at the end of the route near the Place d’Italie in southeast Paris as police tried to disperse stragglers.
Black Bloc activists with their faces covered could be seen leading attacks on officers, and smashing up vehicles and shop fronts.
A masked protester dressed in black standing next to a burning barricade during clashes on the sidelines of a May Day demonstration in Paris
A protester holding a flag of the Romani people as he stands on burning planks on the sidelines of the annual May Day rally
An anti-riot policeman holds a 40-millimetre rubber defensive bullet launcher LBD (LBD40) during clashes with anti-capitalist protesters
A masked protester dressed in black smashing a shop window as Black Bloc demonstrators set fire to barricades and trashed businesses in the French capital
French Riot Police stand in clouds of tear gas near a burning barricade as demonstrators set fire to rubbing bins and vehciles around Paris
A Yellow Vest protester kicking a tear gas shell back towards the police as a motorbike and a pile a cardboard boxes burn in front of him
A Gilet Jaune or ‘Yellow Vest’ protester standing on top of a burning barricade as demonstrations for International Labour Day turned violent with widespread rioting and vandalism
The worst early violence was outside La Rotonde, President Emmanuel Macron‘s favourite restaurant in Montparnasse.
‘Black Bloc agitators were throwing stones and other missiles at us, and we had to charge,’ said a CRS riot control officer of the French National Police at the scene.
‘Tear gas has also been deployed to bring order to the situation. The situation is very tense.’
Many ‘radical activists’ more are expected to come from neighbouring countries including Britain, Germany and Italy to join in the mayhem.
There are fears that they will target public monuments, banks and high-end shops, while also threatening the kind of fires that have become common at protests.
This has led to the Champs Elysee – the most famous avenue in France – being closed, along with Paris’s governmental and diplomatic districts.
The Ile de la Cite – the island where Notre Dame Cathedral is situated was also in lockdown following the blaze that almost destroyed it last month.
A man, his face covered in blood and heavily bandaged, is assisted as he walks away during a May Day demonstration in the French capital Paris today
People hold blue, white and red smoke bombs as they demonstrate to mark May Day or Labour Day on May 1, 2019 in Toulouse, southwestern France
A wounded riot policeman is comforted by colleagues as medics treat him during clashes with police on the sidelines of a May Day demonstration in Paris
A police officer assists an injured man as demonstrators march though Paris during the annual May Day protests on May 1 in Paris
A protester throws back a tear gas canister, during clashes with riot police officers, prior to the start of May Day demonstrations, in Paris on May 1, 2019
A ‘Black Bloc’ anti-capitalist protester throws a rock at a van during May Day demonstrations today. More than 7,400 police and gendarmes will be deployed across Paris with orders from the French President to take an ‘extremely firm stance’ if faced with any violence, a government spokeswoman said on April 30
Rubbish bins burn as riot police intervene protesters during a demonstration of the French trade unions members and the ‘Gilets Jaunes’
A man walking past garbage and wheelie bins set on fire in Paris. Brief scuffles between police and protesters broke out in the city as thousands of people gather for May Day rallies under tight security measures
Weapons were also confiscated as the police used tear gas, rubber bullets and baton charges to try and restore order.
Huge parts of Paris were in lockdown as an unprecedented 7,400 police officers were drafted on to the streets.
Groups of masked and hooded protesters were seen causing damage and then merging with the much larger number of peaceful May Day marchers.
Some vandalised a parked van, kicking the vehicle and breaking its windows. Others set small fires to rubbish bins.
Tens of thousands of labour union and ‘yellow vest’ protesters were on the streets across France, days after Macron outlined a response to months of street protests including tax cuts worth around 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion).
The Russian Foreign Ministry alleged that French police used batons on the head and shoulder of a correspondent for state news agency RIA-Novosti, Viktoria Ivanova.
‘We consider the use of violence against journalists in the exercise of their professional duties to be unacceptable,’ the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The hard-left CGT union denounced police violence and said its secretary general had been tear-gassed.
‘This current scenario, scandalous and unprecedented, is unacceptable in our democracy,’ it said in a statement.
A masked protester dressed in black throws a stone to the windscreen of a vehicle, prior to the start of May Day demonstrations, in Paris on May 1, 2019
The windscreen of a vehicle was broken by a rock thrown by protesters, prior to the start of May Day demonstrations, in Paris on May 1, 2019
A Black Bloc protester throws a projectile towards riot police during a demonstration of the French trade unions members and the ‘Gilets Jaunes’
The violence was worst outside La Rotonde – a favourite restaurant of President Emmanual Macron, which received international attention after he and his entourage celebrated his first round victory in the Presidential elections
Street Medics attend to an injured protestor in the Montparnasse district of Paris, prior to the start of the annuel May Day workers’ demonstration
French Gendarmes stand guard as street medics intervene (right), prior to the start of May Day demonstrations in Paris on May 1
A ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters kicking tear gas shells back towards the police during clashes with riot police that saw swathes of Paris descend into violence
A French riot police officer with his baton drawn arresting a protester during clashes on the sidelines of the annual May Day rally in Paris
Protesters taking part in an event called ‘BenallApero’, to prevent police from getting to the Contrescarpe square in Paris, a site where a former Elysee senior security officer Alexandre Benalla was caught on video hitting a protester during a previous May Day rally
Demonstrators smash a bank entrance as shops and businesses were trashed during demonstrations that saw huge parts of Paris put under lockdown by the police
A French riot police officer arresting a protester on the ground during a demonstration of the French trade unions and the Yellow Vests
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were injured. At least two men with head wounds were helped away by paramedics and firefighters helped a woman in a wheelchair. Some police officers also fell on the ground.
The French Interior Ministry said 24 protesters and 14 police officers were injured. The ministry said 28,000 people marched in Paris and more than 164,000 in May Day rallies across the country.
Paris police said one police officer was taken to a hospital with a head injury.
The massive security presence was announced by Interior Minister Christophe Castaner who said: ‘There’s no question of dramatising anything, it is a question of being prepared.’
May Day is a Bank Holiday and a traditional time for Left-Wing workers to rise up against the ruling elite.
While some of the people clashing with police wore the signature yellow vests of a French anti-government movement, the peaceful march also had participants in yellow vests as well as waving labour union flags.
Authorities had said they expected some 2,000 Black Bloc protesters from France and across Europe to turn up on the sidelines of the rallies.
The yellow vest protests, named after motorists’ high-visibility jackets, began in November over fuel tax increases but have evolved into a sometimes violent revolt against politicians and a government seen as out of touch.
A protester raises his arms amid teargas smoke during clashes with French anti-riot police officers
Black Blocs protesters move a Black Swan banner towards riot police during a demonstration of the French trade unions members and the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vests) movement marking Labour Day in Paris
Yellow Vest protesters demonstrating on top of a burning barricade as demonstrations for International Labour Day turned violent
Riot police clash with demonstrators as they march though Paris during the annual May Day protests
Tear gas floats around masked protesters during clashes before the start of the traditional May Day labour union march in Paris, France
The sudden violence caught many marchers by surprise, with union members who were caught in the crossfire infuriated by what they claimed was an indiscriminate police crackdown.
One union member with tears in his eyes, referring to the momentous student-led protests in Paris that took place in 1968, said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it, not even in ’68. It was outrageous.’