Riot police have been deployed on the streets of Paris as anarchists and aligned radicals kicked off violent and destructive ‘May Day’ demonstrations around the city.
Video feeds and images pouring onto social media depict pandemonium and destruction in the City of Lights, as masked ‘black bloc’ operatives throw rocks, bottles and explosives at security forces who are utilizing heavily armored vehicles, tear gas grenades and high-powered water cannons in an attempt to restore order.
The protests appear to have been pre-planned, as ‘meeting points’ were advertised on social media, and businesses boarded their windows in preparation.
“I condemn the violence committed this afternoon to #Paris hundreds of hooded individuals,” tweeted Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. “Their only goal was to sow chaos. It’s despicable. All my solidarity to the traders and residents affected as well as demonstrators who were marching in peace for the #1erMai.”
May Day 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of a Marxist revolution in France that was organized in an attempt to oust President Charles de Gaulle. The government was effectively immobilized for a short period, plunging the nation into disarray and bringing it to the brink of civil war, many officials feared.
In 2017, current French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans for a 50 year commemoration.
“Should we commemorate 1968? I really don’t know, but what I can say is that it is part of our history,” lawmaker Thierry Solere commented on Macron’s intentions. “It helped liberate things within French society, and then it perhaps broke something that you need to protect in a society.”