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Yellow vests, Black Bloc and trade unions: What to expect from the protests in France on May 1st

The Local France
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Yellow vests, Black Bloc and trade unions: What to expect from the protests in France on May 1st
File photo: AFP

Gilets Jaunes, trade unions and members of the violent anti-government 'Black Bloc' movement are all set to take to the streets this Labour Day in Paris. Here's what they've got in store for the French capital and how the police are preparing.


French President Emmanuel Macron directly addressed one of the main complaints of the 'yellow vest' movement in his speech on Thursday, saying that he wanted tax cuts for people who work by significantly reducing income taxes. 

But it didn't take long for the main figures of the yellow vests movement to speak out against the president's speech, with controversial figure of the movement Eric Drouet calling it "Blabla" in a video published online just seconds after the leader's press conference. 
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, plans are afoot for more action in France, with police preparing for violent demonstrations in Paris and on Labour Day (May 1st), which is a public holiday for the French.
One of the two events planned for the French capital is dubbed "the ultimate act" (see below), with the 'yellow vests' planning to take to the streets along with the 'Black Bloc', an anarchist group which tends to bring violence and destruction to any protest it takes part in. 
Screenshot: Facebook
"We are appealing to all the revolutionaries in France and elsewhere, to all those who want this to change, to come and form a determined and combative march," write the organisers.
"Repression affects everyone, our response must be joint and united," the event description says, adding "War is declared!"
Last year's May 1st protests were marked by the violence of the 'Black Bloc', who gathered on the Pont d'Austerlitz, with several business ransacked and a branch of McDonald's going up in flames. 
"The arrival of the 'Black Bloc' allows them [the 'yellow vests'] to swell the ranks and to have a younger population within the processions", Caroline Guibet Lafaye, a researcher specialising in issues of radicalism and political violence told LCI. 
The plans will be a new test for the police, who, on the whole, managed to contain the expected violence during Act 23. 
"Despite the will of some demonstrators to vandalise, the work of the police and their professionalism have helped protect property and people," said France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. 
The French police have said the situation promises to be "high risk" and aren't taking any chances.
Grégory Joron from the SGP police union, has said that police responding violently when faced with "extremists who want to fight" is both "inevitable and legitimate, within the framework of a controlled law enforcement."
Joron added that he does not believe in the German model of "de-escalation", which he says has shown its limits. 
Nearly 50 companies of CRS or squadrons of mobile police will be mobilised compared to 20 were last year. 
"This day will be a like a test value, which will show whether the new approach is working," Yvan Assioma from the Alliance police union said. 
Union marches
But it won't only be the 'yellow vests' and 'Black Bloc' taking to the streets. 
Three trade unions, who traditionally march on Labour Day, have called on people to protest for "fairer and more progressive taxation", more public services and "high-level social protection" after Macron's "disappointing" announcements. 
The CGT, FSU and Union Solidaires unions will be joined by two youth organisations, Unef and UNL.
The unions have said May 1st will be "a day of action and international mobilisation for workers' rights, social progress, peace and solidarity". 
Their march in Paris is set to leave from Montparnasse station at 2.30pm in the direction of Place d'Italie.
The CGT union marching on May 1st last year
Metro closures
By order of the Paris Prefecture of Police the following stations will be closed from 7am on Wednesday morning: Argentine, George V, Tuileries, Charles de Gaulle - Etoile, Concorde, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs Elysées Clemenceau, Victor Hugo, Ternes, Opéra, Kléber, Boissière, Pyramides, La Tour Maubourg, Ecole Militaire, Madeleine, Invalides, Miromesniland Assemblée Nationale.
Services will also be stopped between Trocadéro and Charles de Gaulle Etoile on line 6 and between La Motte Picquet Grenelle and Richelieu Drouot on line 8. 
From 12 noon, Vavin, Raspail, Denfert Rochereau, Saint-Jacques, Glacière, Corvisart, Notre-Dame des Champs and Port Royal stations will also be closed. 
And line 6 will stop services between Montparnasse Bienvenüe and Place d'Italie, as well as Trocadéro and Charles de Gaulle - Etoile.
You can check here for more information on the day. 
Elsewhere in France
The FO union has organised its own events separate from the other unions, with a march planned in Marseille while in the department of Aube in eastern France, people belonging to the FO union will march alongside those from the CFDT. 
In the Aveyron department the Unsa union will be protesting. 
French words to know
Yellow vests - Gilets Jaunes
To protest - manifester 
Protester - manifestant
May Day - Fête du travail


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Anonymous 2019/04/27 11:17
18 happy in this small village in SW France. Most Saturdays visiting the big market in the centre of the nearect town/city. A village of 3 vignerons but too small for a shop or post office. Fine as I &other villagers stock up at the market & supermarkets en route. BUT, this is no longer feasibleand the market is suffering all because of the roundabouts between us and our destination. Roundabouts sometimes & sometimes not taken over by the militia of Yellow cvests, seemingly out to terrorise all who don't display a vest kept, to be worn for roadside incidents. I, as a supporter of EN MARCHE, refuse to be humiliated and forced to this show of hyprosity am therefore excluded from my happy regular shopping of fresh local products to the detrment of the producers & my happy long retirement.

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