Paris protesters fight with police for third night in a row, responding to Macron’s pension reform
Thousands took to the streets of France on for the third night in a row Saturday to protest a pension reform enacted by President Emmanuel Macron.
The reform was enacted Thursday when Macron used a clause of France’s constitution to change the state pension age from 62 to 64, without a vote by the country’s parliament.
Now, Macron faces the biggest challenge to his authority since the 2018 Yellow Vest protests, which forced him to change his stance on a carbon tax that was raising fuel prices.
“Macron, Resign!” protesters chanted on Saturday. “Macron is going to break down, we are going to win,” others cried on the Place d’Italie in southern Paris.
Riot police responded with tear gas and clashed with some demonstrators as they set trash bins on fire.
Local governments decided Saturday to ban protests on Paris’s central Place de la Concorde and the adjacent Champs-Elysees. Police arrested 61 people in the area on Thursday and Friday nights.
Earlier Saturday, social media videos circulated of a student and activist-led collective called “Revolution Permanente” taking over the Forum des Halles shopping mall.
They chanted “Paris stand up, rise up,” as they walked through waving banners and calling for a general strike.
An alliance of France’s main unions have decided to mobilize in support of the effort, scheduling a nationwide strike scheduled for Thursday.
The city’s trash has already begun to pile up on the streets, as the capital’s refuse workers have joined the strike, adding pressure on Macron to reverse his decision.
So far, the government has remained adamant that the pension reform is essential in ensuring the longevity of the program, and Macron has not responded publicly to the unrest.