Since January, riots and burning barricades in Paris streets and across multiple major French cities has become more common as citizens rise up to voice their outrage at the policies of President Emmanuel Macron, who used an obscure law to bypass parliament and raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 in the tightly controlled pseudo-socialist economy.
The move has proven wildly unpopular and has been regarded as an autocratic power grab by many. This was happening already. And then the calendar ticked over to May 1st, known internationally as May Day, or Labor Day.
To say that May Day is a big deal in Europe is a bit of an understatement. Anywhere with a prominent socialist movement, such as Russia, France, the former Iron Curtain or Seattle, Portland, and California, often see the day filled with angry workers who protest, strike, and riot.
Robert Zaretsky of the University of Houston wrote for Politico, “…if the past is prologue to the present, Monday’s iteration promises to be the largest, if not the most violent, one yet.”
The French did not disappoint. Independent journalist Brendan Gutenschwager, well known for his groundbreaking protest coverage and astonishingly shot video reporting, provided footage from the streets of Paris throughout the day as the French capital appeared to burn.
Massive fire set in front of a building at Place de la Nation, police deployed to clear people out of the area as firefighters are brought in pic.twitter.com/JJOxaJNbUE
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) May 1, 2023
Independent journalist Jules Ravel captured the chaos as French riot police clashed with the rioters near the Place de la Nation.
#Paris, scènes de chaos la police est sous les projectiles, charges et matraquage. #1erMai #fetedutravail #ReformeDesRetraites #manifs1ermai #manifestation #manifestations #manif1ermai pic.twitter.com/ZnwAYttQfU
— Jules Ravel (@JulesRavel1) May 1, 2023
According to the Andalau News Agency citing French news outlet BFMTV: “The General Confederation of Labor counted 2.3 million protesters nationwide, including 550,000 in Paris.” The French interior ministry presented a more conservative figure of a still astonishing 782,000 people across the country, with 112,000 in Paris alone.
The rioters and demonstrators dressed in the black bloc fashion, familiar to those who have seen Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots in the U.S. They also carried red socialist banners and flags bearing communist icons such as the hammer & sickle.
🇫🇷 It’s Mayday, the day communists celebrate labor. You would expect something to be going down in Paris.
And you would be right.
Riots a la carte. pic.twitter.com/NljwALvOOQ
— Economy Politics (@taycottam) May 1, 2023