Officers charge protesters in Paris as ‘Black Thursday’ strikes descends into violence

How French riot cops handle strikers: Baton-wielding officers charge protesters and use tear gas in Paris as ‘Black Thursday’ industrial action over pension reforms descends into violence

  • Riot police were called into action in Paris due to strikes against pension reform
  • Thousands of people took part in France’s ‘Black Thursday’ of demonstrations 
  • Anarchists calling themselves ‘Black Bloc’ were blamed for turning on officers

A ‘Black Thursday’ of demonstrations and strikes against pension reform descended into violence in France today.

The worst trouble was in Paris, where protesters fought running battles with police around Bastille square.

Anarchists calling themselves ‘Black Bloc’ were blamed for infiltrating a planned march and then turning on officers.

‘They started throwing rocks and other projectiles,’ said an officer at the scene, who added that there had been 30 arrests by 5pm.

As the violence intensified tear gas and baton charges were used by the police to try and restore order.

Trade unions predicted a million people would mobilise across France to fight moves to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.

Mass demonstrations took place in France today against pension reforms that would raise the age of retirement to 64

Mass demonstrations took place in France today against pension reforms that would raise the age of retirement to 64

Riot police officer grabs a protestor during a demonstration against pension changes

Riot police officer grabs a protestor during a demonstration against pension changes

Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel said: ‘On Thursday the walls of the Élysée palace must tremble.’

In turn, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin pledged to crack down on potential rioters, saying: ‘More than 10,000 police and gendarmes will be mobilised, including 3500 in Paris’.

Cross-Channel ferries, airports, commuter trains and buses were meanwhile all hit by strike action, while schools and colleges also shut down.

Under new proposals outlined in the Paris parliament, people will have to work two years longer to achieve a full pension.

This has been hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as vital to safeguard France’s hugely expensive system.

Anarchists calling themselves 'Black Bloc' were blamed for infiltrating a planned march and then turning on officers

Anarchists calling themselves ‘Black Bloc’ were blamed for infiltrating a planned march and then turning on officers

Thousands to part in a demonstration against pension reform in Paris earlier today

Thousands to part in a demonstration against pension reform in Paris earlier today 

He was at a meeting in Spain, where he welcomed ‘democratic protest’ but said any rioting would be met with ‘the full force of the law’.

His pension reform ideas have proved deeply unpopular, with 68% saying they are opposed to it, according to an IFOP poll this week.

All the country’s unions have condemned the measure, as have the Left-wing and Far-right opposition parties in the National Assembly.

Mr Macron’s Renaissance party does not have a parliamentary majority, so has to rely on the support of around 60 MPs from the conservative Republicans party to get his pension reforms through.

With the parliamentary process taking months several weeks, Mr Macron faces a rolling campaign of opposition.

President Macron said he welcomed 'democratic protest' but said any rioting would be met with 'the full force of the law'

President Macron said he welcomed ‘democratic protest’ but said any rioting would be met with ‘the full force of the law’

Most other European countries have taken steps to raise the official retirement age, which in Britain is currently 66.

President Macron made an earlier attempt to reform the system in 2019, but scrapped it because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

This is the seventh attempted pension reform in France since Socialist president François Mitterrand cut the retirement age to 60 in 1982.

Every subsequent attempt to reverse that change has led to mass opposition on the street.

In 2010, conservative Nicolas Sarkozy raised the retirement age to 62, despite weeks of mass protests.

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