On Thursday, French authorities attempted to quell rallies over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform. Over a million people flocked to the streets around the country in what some security officials called an “insurgency” against the administration in Paris. Police deployed tear gas, water cannons, flash bangs, and batons to break up the protesters, and videos circulated on social media showing highly armored cops beating defenseless protesters. At least 150 police officers and gendarmes were hurt, and 172 persons had been held for interrogation in connection with “looting and arson” in Paris. The interior minister blamed the brunt of the violence on the “extreme left” and “black bloc” anarchists.
The police estimated that there were over a million demonstrators on the streets. Macron’s declaration that the retirement age will be raised from 62 to 64 starting next year sparked a wave of public outrage. Protesters called for Macron to resign in response, but he said he would not back down, even if it meant “shouldering unpopularity.” Despite widespread criticism for the draconian coronavirus lockdowns and mandates, Macron stated that if disgruntled citizens resort to violence, “that is no longer democracy.”
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