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Fights in Paris, different demands on display at the May Day rallies across France

Police fought with protesters in Paris on Saturday, firing tear gas as thousands of people came across France for demonstrations for workers’ rights on May Day.

A police source told AFP that far-left protesters from the “black block” have repeatedly tried to block the union-led march in the French capital, with 34 people detained.

Some protesters broke the windows of bank branches, set fire to garbage cans and threw projectiles at the police, who responded with tear gas and iron grenades. An injured police officer had to be evacuated, an AFP journalist saw.

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The CGT union said that nearly 300 May day protests were planned across the country, with officials expecting about 100,000 protesters to join them in total.

The crowds held placards with different demands, ranging from the end of the night curfew in effect as part of the coronavirus restrictions to the suspension of unemployment reforms that are due to take effect in July.

Members of the yellow-vested anti-elite movement, which shook Emmanuel Macron’s presidency two years ago before disappearing, could also be seen in protests across the country.

Five people were arrested in the southeastern city of Lyon, while black bloc protesters clashed again with police at the demonstration, which drew about 3,000 people despite the rain.

“There are so many motivations for an uprising that is building up – Covid’s management, the so-called reforms that will take people’s lives away, those looking for jobs and will lose their benefits”, said a retiree who gave his name as Patricia .

“It is absolutely necessary to express ourselves,” said the 66-year-old.

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