Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for May Day, in solidarity with millions around the world who marched for worker’s rights. While the French protest every year, these protests were remarkably violent as police fired tear gas at crowds in attempts to control factions bent on rioting, detaining more than 250 protestors by the end of the day.
This was the first May Day rally for members of France’s “Yellow Vest” movement, which began protesting 24 weeks ago against what they see as President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business policies favoring the elite.
The group has proven to be one of the biggest challenges to Macron’s presidency and has already forced the President to make concessions related to taxation, pension reform and the closures of schools and hospitals. By turning up today, the Yellow Vests aligned themselves with a centuries-old movement that’s traditionally seen as pro-union and pro-left.
“Today is May Day. It has nothing to do with a Yellow Vest action. It’s a workers’ celebration,” Jérôme Rodrigues, an unofficial leader of the Yellow Vest’s told VICE News. “Within the Yellow Vest march, you have workers who have gathered here to reinforce their demands, and show that they are workers too.”
Rodrigues joined the Yellow Vests in it’s earlier stages, and in a January rally, lost an eye after being hit with what he believes to be a police-fired projectile. Videos capturing the moment propelled him to the forefront of the movement.
“The problem is that we have a president in France right now who not only doesn’t listen to us, but also mutilates us,” Rodrigues told VICE News. “So why wage a revolution? Because the climate of violence was brought on by the government.”
Turning out today was important for Rodrigues and the Yellow Vests because they’ve been losing momentum as of late. He hopes that the Yellow Vests’ presence at the May Day pro-labour rally will help bolster support for their cause in the future.
“All this diversity— That’s how we win. OK?” Rodrigues told VICE News. “Today, we see that we ignored that [in the past], and that we have recovered something fundamental in France. It’s called fraternity.”
Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News
Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com
Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo