With the final vote in France’s presidential election less than a week away, unionists turned out on May Day to protest right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. Le Pen has been gaining in the polls though her rival, Emmanuelle Macron, is still leading by about 20 points. NBC News tweeted the”peaceful” march had (unexpectedly) turned violent:
— NBC News World News (@NBCNewsWorld) May 1, 2017
Masked, left-wing protesters threw rocks, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails at police, injuring six officers. From the Guardian:
Six riot police officers were injured, one with third-degree burns to his hand and face, in Paris when a group of about 150 people armed with molotov cocktails, stones and sticks hijacked the traditional May Day march organised by French unions…
Shortly after the Paris march set off from the central Place de la République, a group with scarves covering their faces forced their way to the front and began throwing missiles at police, who responded with teargas. Some pulled masonry from the walls of buildings to throw at the police and several shopping bags and backpacks filled with stones and bottles were found.
Even before the violence, the march had got off on the wrong foot. Unable to agree on how best to confront the prospect of Le Pen becoming the country’s next president – by voting blank, abstaining or choosing Emmanuel Macron – the unions went their separate ways, with two organising a breakaway gathering in north Paris on Monday morning.
Video shows police engulfed in flames. Toward the end of this clip you can also see some vandalism taking place:
Here’s another clip shot by the group We Are Change which shows two policemen set on fire by a Molotov cocktail. They quickly retreat and other officers pat out the flames on their boots:
Finally, this AFP clip gives an overview and shows police responding to the masked protesters with tear gas:
If protesters were looking for a way to help Le Pen further improve her standing in the polls, setting police on fire is certain to do that.