France’s national holiday has been marred by scuffles between police and protesters, as thousands of people took to the streets of Paris to demonstrate against public health support measures they deemed insufficient.
Streets in the center of the French capital once again descended into chaos as police officers in riot gear clashed with groups of angry protesters while France was celebrating Bastille Day.
Videos posted on social media showed officers wearing helmets and body armor using tear gas and pepper-spraying crowds in a tense standoff. The protesters were seen throwing various objects at the police.
Footage captured by RT’s Ruptly video agency showed the moment tensions boiled over and the standoff spiraled into a brief and intense clash at the Place de la Bastille, as a small group of demonstrators attacked several officers. The attackers managed to strike one officer to the ground, landing multiple kicks before other officers stepped in to intervene.
Instances of violence also accompanied a massive protest march organized by a major trade union association, the CGT, together with the Inter-Hospital Collective (CIH) – a group calling for more support for public health care facilities and workers.
More than 3,000 people joined the event and walked from the Place de la Republique in central Paris to the Place de la Bastille. Some 1,300 members of the Yellow Vests movement were seen among the demonstrators, France’s BFM TV said, citing police. The march also attracted some 150 “radicals,” sources within law enforcement told the French media.
The protesters accused President Emmanuel Macron’s government of failing to provide sufficient aid to the nation’s healthcare system amid the Covid-19 pandemic and denounced wage agreements signed just a day before as a “fraud.”
On Monday, the French government and the trade unions signed an accord that included €7.5 billion euros ($8.5 billion) for pay increases to nurses and caregivers. Under the agreement, each of them was expected to get a monthly pay boost of €183 ($208). However, some demonstrators told the French media that the wage increase should be no less than €300 ($342).
The Yellow Vests also staged a separate demonstration to protest against police brutality. Smaller rallies were held in other French cities, including Toulouse and Marseille.
Rassemblement pour les soignants ce matin à #Marseille. Après les applaudissements, il faut des actes. Ceux du Ségur de la santé ne sont pas à la hauteur des besoins des personnels de l’hôpital public. pic.twitter.com/neVH4X4u0v
— Jean-Luc Mélenchon (@JLMelenchon) July 14, 2020
Bastille Day often sees massive demonstrations, which are frequently marred by violence. Last year, the national holiday witnessed clashes between law enforcement and protesters who sought to block the iconic Champs Elysees avenue with barricades. At that time, more than 150 people were arrested in Paris.
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