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Scuffles and arrests as thousands mark May Day in France, Spain and Germany

Thousands have rallied in France, Spain, and Germany to mark May Day amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 30,000 people from across the political spectrum participated in several marches in the German capital on Saturday during the traditional Labour Day workers’ rights demonstrations. Berlin police arrested 240 people after “unacceptable” violence that saw protesters pelt officers with stones and bottles.

Most of the demonstrations passed off peacefully, police said.

But the mood darkened in the evening after police pulled far-left “black block” protesters out of the crowd for not adhering to pandemic hygiene regulations such as social distancing.

Berlin police officers held a man on the ground during a May Day demonstration.



Along with thousands of others, they marched in the “Revolutionary May Day” demonstration to protest racism, capitalism, and rising rents in the city.

Heavy scuffles ensued, protesters, throwing glass bottles and stones at police and setting dustbins and wooden pallets ablaze in the streets.

Around 20 officers were injured when the protest was broken up, Berlin police said.

“Violence during demonstrations is unacceptable,” said Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik.

“The situation degenerated but was quickly controlled,” she added.

The German capital had deployed around 5,600 officers on Saturday to monitor the May Day protests, which have turned violent in the past.

Police scuffle with protesters in Paris

In Paris, police fired tear gas at protesters who smashed windows of bank branches, set fire to dustbins, and threw projectiles at police.

A police source told AFP that far-left “black bloc” protesters had repeatedly tried to block the trade union-led march in the French capital, where 46 people were detained.

Some protesters smashed the windows of bank branches, set fire to dustbins, and threw projectiles at police, who responded with volleys of tear gas and swingball grenades.

About 5,000 police were deployed in Paris, a police source said.

Protesters gather as they clash with police at the May Day demonstration in Paris.


The CGT union said nearly 300 Mayday protests were planned around the country. It later claimed a total national turnout of 170,000, with 25,000 rallying in the French capital.

The French interior ministry put the national figure at 106,000 and the Paris turnout at 17,000.

The crowds held placards with different demands, ranging from the end of the nighttime curfew as part of coronavirus restrictions to a halt to unemployment reforms coming into force in July.

“There are so many motivations for a revolt that are building up – the management of Covid, the so-called reforms that are going to take away people’s ability to live, job-seekers who are going to lose their benefits,” said a pensioner named Patricia. “We have many reasons to come and rally – the health and social situations and the general impoverishment of society,” said Ivan Gineste, 50, who works in a high school in the southeastern city of Lyon. Members of the yellow vest anti-elite movement, which rocked Emmanuel Macron’s presidency two years ago before largely fizzling out, could also be spotted at protests up and down the country.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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