A crowd of around 200 illegal migrants from Africa stormed Alfortville town hall on Tuesday morning, demanding the government relax criteria for regularisation and give them residence papers.
Illegal migrants occupied the town hall for about an hour, frightening members of the public in the building as well as staff who had to retreat to their offices.
The migrants, who work at Rungis International Market, the world’s largest wholesale food market, began piling into the town hall at around 8.30 am, but staff didn’t notice their arrival until it was “too late”, according to Le Parisien.
When officers arrived to break up the protest and evacuate the town hall, they were forced to use tear gas as a group of around forty illegal immigrants were blocking access to the building. Le Parisien reports that following clashes, 14 people received medical treatment with three hospitalised.
“This illegal occupation prevented Alfortvillians from accessing public services throughout the morning, and caused anxiety among town hall staff and families who were already present in the building,” the commune’s Socialist mayor Luc Carvounas said in a statement.
“Although staff received the men, and listened to their demands, the members of the collective did not wish to enter into any dialogue, instead contenting themselves with denouncing government policy.”
Suggesting the protest was linked to the far left, the mayor denounced the action as having been “exploitation of human misery for political purposes”.
Carvounas argued that it is unreasonable for far left groups to target his town hall, “since, in October 2015, Alfortville was one of the first communes in France to declare itself in favour of welcoming migrants”.