In the aftermath of the government's decision to use 49.3 to push through the pension reform, rallies took place in several cities in France on Friday March 17. In Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg, clashes occurred in the evening on the sidelines of these demonstrations.
Some 2,500 demonstrators gathered Friday evening at Place de la Concorde in Paris, like the day before, after several actions by high school and university students during the day. The crowd swelled around 7 p.m., in an atmosphere that had been rather calm until then.
Then some demonstrators lit a brazier, and the atmosphere became tense as night fell. Hundreds of people then clashed with the police in small groups, throwing projectiles.
Around 9:30 p.m. the place was completely evacuated. According to the police headquarters, 61 people were arrested there in the evening.
In Lyon, the town hall of the 4th arrondissement was targeted on Friday evening during a rally against the pension reform project, which gave rise to other tensions in the city center and to 36 arrests, according to the prefecture. .
Leaving from the center of Lyon at the start of the evening, where they were a few hundred, the demonstrators, mainly young far-left activists, then played cat and mouse with the police, dividing into small groups in narrow streets. The clashes and police reactions continued until almost midnight, in the 4th, then the 6th arrondissement of Lyon.
They set fire to trash cans, overturned scooters, smashed billboards and tagged shop windows, chanting, “Whose is it? Whose ? It's ours ! ". They threw firecrackers, while the CRS responded with the use of tear gas.
At the end of the evening, they attacked the town hall of the 4th arrondissement, on the plateau of Croix-Rousse. After breaking down the front door of the building, they managed to get in and then "tried to set the fire", but "the police intervened quickly and succeeded" in putting it out, according to the prefecture, which mentioned a "vandalized town hall".
In a tweet, the prefect of the Rhône, Fabienne Buccio, "strongly condemned the intrusion and the ransacking of the town hall".
The mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet (Europe ecology-The greens), also on Twitter, condemned the "intolerable degradation" of this "public building". "At this time, arrests have been made," the prefecture tweeted shortly before 1 a.m.
In Strasbourg, it was on Place Kléber that 1,600 protesters gathered. "We too will go through in force," chanted the demonstrators. The prefecture reported "degradation" in the city center, but no arrests.
On Twitter, the prefect of Bas-Rhin, Josiane Chevalier, condemned "firmly the degradations committed by demonstrators in the city center of Strasbourg" and gave her "total support to the national police (…) who had to intervene several times occasions to restore calm".
According to the regional daily Les Derniers Nouvelles d'Alsace (DNA), the glass doors of Galeries Lafayette and a bus shelter were broken, tram traffic was also disrupted. Protesters also "tipped over furniture, flower pots, emptied trash cans on the floor" and lit "littering" and "pallet fires", according to the newspaper.
Shortly after 10 p.m., the police used tear gas to disperse the crowd in a square on the outskirts of the hypercentre, according to DNA.
Thursday, 310 people had been arrested in France, including 258 in Paris, announced the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, denouncing "burned effigies" in Dijon and "targeted prefectures".
At the same time, the intersyndicale called for "local local rallies" this weekend, as well as a 9th day of strikes and demonstrations on Thursday March 23.
The SNCF unions call for "maintaining the renewable strike" started on the 7th and "to act massively" next Thursday.