Bastille Day Battle: Antifa and Protesters Clash With Police in Paris

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 14: French Police push back protestors and spray pepper spray during an Bastille Day Anti Government Protest near Place de la Bastille on July 14, 2020 in Paris, France. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many Bastille Day events have been cancelled. (Photo by Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)
Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

Chaos erupted in France as thousands of protesters flooded onto the streets of Paris to mark Bastille Day. Members of the anti-Macron reform Yellow Vest Movement (Gilets Jaunes), Antifa, and other black-bloc agitators joined the crowds, which quickly devolved into riots, with attacks being launched against the local police.

On Tuesday, thousands of people marched through Paris on Bastille Day, the French National Day that celebrates the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, the symbolic beginning of the French Revolution.

Some 2,700 people gathered at the call of several trade union organisations, including the CGT and Solidaires, as well as the Inter-Hospital Collective. They demanded that the government pledge more funding for cash-strapped hospitals and healthcare workers in the wake of the Chinese coronavirus, according to French broadcaster La Chaîne Info.

As was the case with the French Revolution Bastile day celebtrates, the scene was marred by violence committed at the hands of radical leftists. French police were physically assaulted by black-bloc rioters, who threw tear gas canisters and makeshift missiles at the officers.

Footage shared on social media showed demonstrators waving the Antifa flag.

“Yellow vests, ultra-yellow, and disturbing elements have entered the ranks of the demonstrators to commit degrading and willful violence,” a police source told La Chaîne Info.

“Several gendarmes [civil police] were attacked at around 3.30 pm and had projectiles and tear gas thrown at them. Calm returned several times before tensions returned,” the source added.

In response to the violent outbreak, Éric Ciotti, a Member of the National Assembly for the liberal-conservative party Les Républicains, said: “Our police were violently attacked by barbarians in Paris on this national holiday. This escalation of violence against those who protect us is unbearable.”

“How long will we accept this?” Ciotti questioned.

In a televised interview marking Bastille Day, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged that the government will spend an additional €100 billion (£91bn/$114bn) in economic stimulus, on top of the €460 billion (£417bn/$525bn) that has been spent to mitigate the economic damage caused by the Chinese coronavirus.

The French economy has been hard hit, after imposing one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with an estimated one million people to be added to the unemployment rolls by early 2021, who would have been employed if not for the virus.

“We will have lay-offs, and we will have an increase in unemployment, a massive rise,” Mr Macron said per the Financial Times, promising further measures such as the waiving of social security charges to promote jobs and apprenticeships for school leavers.

Macron said that the government will introduce “an anti-lay-off plan” that will include waiving social security charges and apprenticeship schemes, adding: “The priority for this summer, and of the return to work in the autumn, is jobs.”

“On top of the money already announced, with this recovery plan we are putting in at least €100 billion to ensure an industrial, environmental, local, cultural, and educational relaunch,” he said.

“I’m convinced we can build a different country in 10 years,” the French leader predicted.

Mr Macron’s spending promises did little to quell the unrest amongst health care workers and left-wing trade unions.

Guillaume Rosey, a neurology nurse in Maubeuge, said that the proposed increase to health care worker pay of €183 (£166/$209) per month as “insufficient”, saying: “We asked for a €300 [£272/$343] average salary increase.”

“There are many things that have not been discussed, and we cannot be satisfied until they are resolved,” Rosey added.

Violent attacks against the police have become a common occurrence at protests in France.

On June 16th, at a similar healthcare worker demonstration, Antifa militants were found to have assaulted riot police with the chemical titanium tetrachloride, which when released turns into titanium dioxide and releases hydrochloric acid.

At least 24 Antifa rioters were arrested at the protest.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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