Dozens of police officers were injured during mass protests in Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain, as May Day demonstrations turned violent.
Around 30,000 protesters took to the streets during rallies in Berlin on Saturday, police said, adding at least 93 officers were injured as some of the demonstrations turned violent. Some 354 protesters were detained.
Police fired water cannon and tear gas in a Brussels park to break up an anti-lockdown party of several hundred people designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules.
Protests hit other European capitals too, most notably Paris, where police made 46 arrests as garbage bins were set on fire and the windows of a bank branch were smashed.
Thousands also poured onto the streets of cities in Spain and Italy for the workers’ day protests in defiance of lockdown rules, resulting in violent clashes with police.
BERLIN, GERMANY: Riot police take up a position in a street in the German capital tonight in front of a burning barricade
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Police responded to an anti-lockdown party, designed to defy coronavirus social distancing rules in the city’s Bois de la Cambre park
PARIS, FRANCE: 46 people had been arrested at protests in Paris by mid-afternoon, after demonstrators set garbage bins on fire and smashed the windows of a bank branch in the city centre
TURIN, ITALY: Thousands also poured onto the streets of Turin, Italy for the workers’ day protests in defiance of lockdown rules, resulting in violent clashes with police
ISTANBUL, TURKEY: Thousands of protests took part in the international worker’s day rally in Istanbul, Turkey, which boasts the highest Covid-19 infection rate in Europe
Berlin’s head of police Barbara Slowik told local broadcaster rbb24: ‘The violent riots that occurred is something that I very much regret’.
More than 20 different rallies took place in the German capital on Saturday and the vast majority of them were peaceful.
However, a leftist march of 8,000 people through the city’s Neukoelln and Kreuzberg neighborhood, which has often seen clashes in past decades, turned violent.
‘Violence against police officers and a blind, destructive rage has nothing to do with political protest,’ Berlin state interior minister Andreas Geisel said.
Geisel condemned the throwing of bottles and rocks and the burning barricades on the streets and especially the violence toward police saying, ‘The high number of injured officer leaves me stunned. I wish all of those who were injured in the line of duty a quick recovery.
Some injuries occurred after some demonstrators threw fireworks, bottles and rocks during protests over social inequality. About 5,600 police were deployed, and some responded with pepper spray.
Police used water cannon to extinguish fires as protesters set ablaze waste bins, barricades and cars.
Demonstrations also took place in several other German cities, including Hamburg and Leipzig, despite Europe’s largest economy grappling with a third wave of the pandemic.
The demonstrations were the second May Day protests since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Turnout was much higher than last year, even though social distancing requirements remain in place.
There’s a nightly curfew in most parts of Germany currently because of the high number of coronavirus infections. But political protests and religious gatherings are exempt from the curfew.
In Belgium, police responded to a crowd of mostly young people in Brussel’s Bois de la Cambre park, who were attending la Boum (the party), an event that had begun as an April Fool’s joke.
The follow-up Boum 2 event on May 1, a traditional day for demonstrations, was held a week before the Belgian government allows cafe and bar terraces to open and lets groups of more than four people meet outside in a relaxation of COVID-19 rules.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo urged Belgians on Friday to stay united and not ‘fall into this trap’. Facebook also took down the Boum 2 post on Thursday after a request from Belgian prosecutors, who warned partygoers they risked being detained or fined
Police said several hundred people still attended.
Emile Breuillot, a 23-year-old dental student, said he had come to see people enjoy themselves and to defend their rights to gather.
After a calm start with groups chanting ‘freedom’, the police announced on social media that attendees were not observing public safety measures and that they would intervene. Many people were not wearing masks, a requirement anywhere in public in the Belgian capital.
Hundreds of people also marched in central Brussels and through the eastern city of Liege demanding a relaxation of coronavirus measures.
BERLIN, GERMANY: Police officers wearing riot gear take a person into custody in front of a burning barricade in Berlin tonight
BERLIN, GERMANY: Protestors throw a waste paper bin into a burning barricade this evening as they continue to take part in the May Day protests
BERLIN, GERMANY: Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze on a street during a May Day protest in Berlin this evening
BERLIN, GERMANY: A wall of police officers surrounds a fire which has broken out on a street in berlin to provide space for firefighters to tackle it
BERLIN, GERMANY: Firefighters work to put out a fire on a street in Berlin as the May day protests continue into the night
BERLIN, GERMANY: A police officer in Berlin confronts a protestor during a May day protest in the German capital this evening
PARIS, FRANCE: A water cannon is fired by police forces in the French capital to try and break up the crowds of protestors
There were 18 arrests in the French capital by mid-afternoon, with disturbances breaking out along the route of an organised march.
‘Tear gas is being used to restore order, but the attacks are ongoing,’ said an officer at the scene. ‘Organised gangs are specifically targeting officers.’
France is currently under lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but this did not stop trade unions and other organisations encouraging protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s administration.
There were chants of ‘Macron resign’ as the march rallied thousands between Republic and Nation squares on Saturday afternoon.
Youths wearing black balaclavas and brandishing metal bars were seen smashing shop and bank windows.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Police officers in riot gear move up to an advanced position during clashes at a park in Brussels this evening
PARIS, FRANCE: A protester kicks in a bank window at the International Labour Day protests on May 1 as demonstrations turned ugly as the crowds vented their fury at Emmanuel Macron
PARIS, FRANCE: A demonstrator holds a flare during demonstrations in the French capital today as they protested against Macron
PARIS, FRANCE: A Gilet Jaune, or yellow vest, protestor stands in front of a burning barricade holding his hand up with an inscription calling for President Macron to resign
PARIS, FRANCE: Riot police with shields move in to quell the disruption as red hot flares are hurled in their direction near the Place de la Republique
PARIS, FRANCE: A Gilet Jaune, or yellow vest, protestor screams towards French Riot Police as they protest through the streets of Paris on May Day against President Macron’s economic reforms, the insufficient state of the French public health system and the French Government’s response to the Covid Pandemic on May 1
TURIN, ITALY: Riot police clash with protesters during the protest of the May Day in Turin, Italy. Every year May Day is used to mark the fight for workers’ rights, with unions and associations converging in the streets
ISTANBUL, TURKEY: Riot police officers scuffle with demonstrators as they attempt to defy a ban and march on Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, during a nationwide ‘full closure’ imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease
ISTANBUL, TURKEY: Police detain a demonstrator as they clash during a May Day rally marking the international day of the worker
BERLIN, GERMANY: Demonstrators attend a protest on their bicycles against gentrification and high rents in front of the Victory Column earlier today during the May Day demonstrations
BERLIN, GERMANY: Thousands of people joined a May Day protest in the German capital earlier today
BERLIN, GERMANY: A huge number of protestors participate in the annual ‘Revolutionary May 1’ protest march earlier today
BERLIN, GERMANY: A row of police officers in Berlin stand in front of a large group of protestors earlier today
BERLIN, GERMANY: A huge crowd of people walk through the streets of Berlin earlier today as they took part in May Day protests
BERLIN, GERMANY: Police wearing riot gear stand huddled together as they observe people taking part in May Day demonstrations in the German capital earlier today
TORINO, ITALY: A hooded figure holds a red flare in the air during the May Day protests in Italy earlier today
TORINO, ITALY: A group of police officers wearing riot gear stand together watching a group of demonstrators in Torino earlier today
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A crowd of demonstrators are almost completely enveloped in a cloud of red and white smoke at the May Day protests earlier today
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Two protestors are stood surrounded by tear gas in the Belgian capital earlier today as people gathered in the Bois de La Cambre park for the May Day protests
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A line of police officers wearing riot gear and holding batons and shields are seen holding rank during the second ‘La Boum – L’Abime’ festival in Brussels earlier today
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A number of people who gathered in a park in Belgium earlier today faced off against police officers
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A protestors kicks a football towards a line of police officers at a park in Belgium earlier today during a May Day protest
There were regular anti-Macron riots every Saturday in Paris before the Coronavirus crisis, most of them organised by the so-called Yellow Vests movement.
Named after their high-viz jackets, they caused millions of euros worth of damage around the Champs Elysee and other major tourist attractions.
Major acts of vandalism even saw the Arc de Triomphe itself being ransacked, while police had their weapons stolen nearby.
Mounted officers, water cannons, and armoured vehicles capable of spreading high-intensity gas were all used in weekly security operations.
The Vests were joined by extremists from the far Right and the ultra-Left, as well as anarchists intent on causing as much damage as possible.
They forced crisis-ridden Mr Macron to climb down on imposing green surcharges, and he also increased the national minimum wage by seven per sent, and scrapped tax on bonuses, in response to the trouble.
PLAUEN, GERMANY: Supporters of the Third Way far-right political party gather for a rally earlier today
PLAUEN, GERMANY: A German police vehicle is stopped in the middle of the road in Germany during a far-right rally of the Third Way group
BERLIN, GERMANY: Police officers in the German capital of Berlin struggle to deal with demonstrators today
BERLIN, GERMANY: A demonstrator in Berlin grabs hold of the leg of a police officer today during the May Day protests
PARIS, FRANCE: Protesters react to tear gas at the International Labour Day protests
PARIS, FRANCE: A Yellow Vest protester gestures near a fire during the traditional May Day protests
PARIS, FRANCE: Firefighters carry police officer away from clashes during the traditional May Day protests
PARIS, FRANCE: Police head towards protesters at the International Labour Day protests on May 1
PARIS, FRANCE: French riot police stand in formation during clashes with protesters as part of the traditional May Day protests
BERLIN, GERMANY: A large crowd of demonstrators attend a protest in the German capital earlier today on their bicycles to protest against gentrification and high rents
BERLIN, GERMANY: German police officers stand in a group watching over a crowd of demonstrators in the capital earlier today
BERLIN, GERMANY: Huge crowds of people are gathered together in the German capital as they take part in the May Day protests
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the streets of central Stockholm today to protest against the country’s Covid-19 restrictions
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: Police officers in Sweden are seen removing a man with a guitar from the crowd of demonstrators in the capital who gathered to protest against coronavirus restrictions
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: A large crowd of protestors gathered in the Swedish capital earlier today to demonstrate against the national Covid-19 rules
TURIN, ITALY: A woman, who’s face is covered with a white bandana, stands behind a banner in the middle of a May Day demonstration in Turin earlier today
TURIN, ITALY: Red smoke fills the air above a number of demonstrators in Turin earlier today as people gathered to take part in the May Day protests
BRUSSELS, BEKGIUM: Police use a water cannon to put out a fire at the Bois de La Cambre park in Brussels, Belgium, earlier today
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: The water cannon was also used to disperse a crowd of demonstrators earlier today
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A man lies down in front of police vehicles equipped with water cannons in Brussels earlier today
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A huge wave of police officers walks towards a crowd of demonstrators in Belgium earlier today to break up a protest
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Protestors who gathered at the ‘La Boum – L’Abime’ festival in Belgium are seen dancing to music, with one person even sitting on the shoulders of another demonstrator
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: A group of protestors in Belgium hold up a sign which reads ‘Mom I am fed up’ during a gathering to protest against government-imposed anti-Covid measures
The independent Mr Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, but he is now dubbed the ‘President of the Rich’.
He will attempt re-election in a year’s time, but the far-Right leader Marine Le Pen, of the National Rally party, is already making inroads into his vote.
The atmosphere was similarly tense in the Turkish capital, where officers were seen tackling demonstrators, grappling them around their faces and pulling their hair.
In Turin, hundreds scrummed with riot police as red flags bearing the hammer and sickle buffeted in the wind.
And in Madrid, deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo marched with other members of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party.
Meanwhile, the Russian Communist Party held a more subdued commemoration for Karl Marx in Moscow where the authorities still revere the Soviet Union, despite its atrocities and failings.
TURIN, ITALY: A line of riot police officers make their way along a road in Turin earlier today as a number of people gathered to take part in the May Day protests
TORINO, ITALY: A line of riot police officers block off a road in Torino earlier today in response to the May Day demonstrations
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: Demonstrators on the streets of the Swedish capital lock their arms together in a line to prevent police officers from breaking up the crowd earlier today
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: A tattooed woman holds a white rose in her hand earlier today as she joined hundreds of people taking to the streets to protest against coronavirus restrictions
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: Signs which read ‘Love is the cure’ and ‘until you wake up, I will fight for you!’ are held in the air by demonstrators in Sweden earlier today
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: People at the front of this group of demonstrators linked their arms together to form a human chain to prevent members being taken away from the protest today
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: A man is led away from a group of demonstrators in the Swedish capital earlier today during May Day protests
MADRID, SPAIN: Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo and candidates for Madrid’s regional elections Pablo Iglesias from ‘Unidas Podemos’ and Angel Gabilondo from ”Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party” (PSOE) attend a protest to mark the International Labour Day
MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Members of the Communist Party take part in demonstrations in the Russian capital on Saturday
TURIN, ITALY: A protester wearing a protective mask holds a green smoke bomb during the protest of the May Day
TURIN, ITALY: Protesters march through the city to mark International Workers’ Day
MADRID, SPAIN: Socialists hold red flags with the hammer and sickle during May Day protests in Spain on Saturday
MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Russian Communist Party Leader Gennady Zyuganov greets supporters as State Duma Deputy Valery Rashkin (right) looks on in front of the monument to German political theorist Karl Marx during the rally marking the International Labour Day
MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Communist Party supporters attend the rally marking the International Labour Day
MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Communist Party members attend the rally marking the International Labour Day as part of Soviet traditions
MADRID, SPAIN: Hundreds march through the streets of the Spanish capital on Saturday to celebrate workers’ rights
MADRID, SPAIN: People march past the City Hall during the traditional May Day rally on Saturday
MADRID, SPAIN: Thousands pour through the streets of the Spanish capital today to mark the international workers’ day