April 19, 2024

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From Paris to Marseille, boos and fury after the Constituent Assembly’s decision

From Paris to Marseille, boos and fury after the Constituent Assembly’s decision

Boos, consternation and anger greeted the Constitutional Council’s decision on Friday, which confirmed a key part of the pension reform, leading to wild demonstrations that sometimes turned violent during rallies across France.

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“This decision marks a milestone. I observe that we are heading towards the death of the Fifth Republic,” says Jean-Marie, a 50-year-old teacher at the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in Paris. He says he oscillates “between determination and bewilderment.”

The Constituent Assembly’s decision, which came shortly before 6 p.m., was greeted by cheers from demonstrators there. Around 4,000 people gathered there in the evening on the invitation of several unions, including the CGT and FO, a police source said. Several hundred young people had gone there after demonstrating earlier from Saint-Lazare station.

“This is scandalous. Where is the democracy?” says Bea, a 61-year-old librarian.Not far behind, a forty-year-old says she’s “too tired” to react warmly.

“Some say mobilization is weakening, I believe it is becoming more radical,” said Raji Aletseretji, 24, a member of the Solitaires union.

Several hundred people then took to the streets of central Paris in wild processions. These were incidents and degradations and groups of demonstrators were sometimes surrounded by police, AFP journalists noted.

At 10 p.m., Paris police chief Laurent Nunez confirmed to BFMTV that “a few dozen people” and “thirty trash cans were shot.”

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In Rennes, several hundred people gathered in the center. “It’s a declaration of war,” responded Fabrice Le Restif, secretary of the Ille-et-Vilaine FO sector union. “We spat in the mouth and we’re not going to let it go,” he added.

In the evening, the door of a police station was set on fire before the fire was extinguished minutes later after the intervention of a water cannon. The same scene on one of the doors of the Congress Center located in the former Jacobin convent.

“This evening in Rennes, against a police station and the Couvent des Jacobins, the damage and attacks that thugs decided to fight back are unacceptable,” Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin said on Twitter.

Demonstrations and rallies were also organized in Lille, Dijon, Caen or Marseille.

“Stubborn and Deaf Government”

In Marseille, around 200 people gathered in front of the prefecture. “I think everybody out there is a little bit agitated, disappointed and disgusted because we’re actually sitting in a democracy,” Marion, 35, replied.

In Strasbourg, it brought 600 to 700 people in an approved permanent gathering center. The Constituent Assembly’s decision was greeted with an apparently resigned silence before speaking out.

A wild demonstration was organized before ending after 9pm. The police used teargas several times.

In Toulouse, 2,300 people gathered for a demonstration in the afternoon, and according to the province, a few hundred gathered at the Place du Capitole around 6 p.m.

In Bordeaux, after a gathering of around 400 people, some of whom had been demonstrating since 8 p.m., the bulk of the radical demonstrators caused damage — burning trash cans, broken bus shelters, broken bank windows — and hurled projectiles at law enforcement. They retaliated by throwing tear gas shells.

Demonstrations also took place in other towns in the region, such as Poitiers or Pau.

In Dijon, around 200 people sang songs, braving the freezing rain and cordoned off in the central square by a large police force.

In Lyon, an AFP journalist noted that 300 to 400 people, according to the prefecture, were moving through the center in the early evening, scattered in small groups on small streets, but were driven away by tear gas.

In Grenoble, around 200 people took to the streets in wild demonstrations in the evening, which the police pushed back several times.