Bordeaux Town Hall Set Ablaze In French Pension Reform Protests

In a contentious move that left the populace "seething," French President Emmanuel Macron raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 last week without consulting Parliament. Since January, there have been strikes and protests in response to the idea, although despite the most of the protests being peaceful, there have recently been some violent outliers, especially in Bordeaux and Paris. According to the BBC, demonstrators ignited the front entrance of City Hall in Bordeaux, in southwest France, on Thursday. Firefighters immediately put out the fire. Uncertainty exists on the cause of the fire.


While rallies in the capital remained largely peaceful, some masked protesters dressed in black made their way through the streets, breaking store windows, looting McDonald's, and destroying outdoor furniture and bus shelters, according to Reuters. Tear gas was used by the police to try to disperse the masses while pyrotechnics and other objects were thrown at them by the demonstrators. Conflicts were also reported in Nantes, Lorient, and Rouen, where a woman is said to have lost her thumb after police fired "flash ball" grenades into the crowds.

On Thursday, popular tourist destinations including the Eiffel Tower and Versailles were closed along with schools and universities around the country, as well as instructors and workers at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport. The French government claims that more than a million people demonstrated on Thursday across the nation, but unions claim that number was more like 3.5 million, according to the Guardian. Over 150 law enforcement officers have reportedly suffered injuries, and hundreds are reportedly in custody, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday that it is a right to express one's disagreements and demonstrate against them. "The depravity and violence we have seen today are inexcusable." The impacts of the protests are currently even extending beyond of the nation: According to the AP, Macron's administration said on Friday that a visit from King Charles III of the United Kingdom has been postponed because of the ongoing conflict. Before traveling to Germany on Wednesday, the king was scheduled to stop in France on Sunday. The majority of French people, according to opinion polls, are opposed to changes to the pension laws, despite Macron's assertion that they are necessary to maintain the system.

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