Tear gas, clashes, vehicles set on fire: Anti-labor reform protests rock France (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Police officers have clashed with protesters and deployed tear gas in several French cities, according to local media. Arrests were made as thousands of people took to the streets to continue demonstrations against labor reforms.
Photos posted on Twitter showed demonstrators making their way through clouds of tear gas as they marched through the streets of several French cities, including Paris, Nantes, Lyon, Rennes, and Paris.
“People were throwing stuff at the police, like cans, bottles, a little bit of pavement, and the police [responded with] tear gas,” a protester told RT over the phone, adding that there were hundreds of people involved in the demonstration in Paris.
About 9,000 demonstrators gathered on the streets of Nantes, according to police. An image posted on Twitter showed a Porsche and a scooter which had been set on fire. Windows could also be seen smashed across the city.
Four people were arrested and one person injured in Nantes, according to local police.
The mayor of Nantes, Johanna Rolland, has condemned the incidents as "unacceptable acts of small groups whose express purpose is to commit violence," French news outlet 20 Minutes reported.
A photo from Quimper showed demonstrators staging a sit-in while waving flags and holding signs against the labor reforms.
In Rennes, police deployed tear gas on demonstrators throwing projectiles on a street leading to the square of the Parliament of Brittany.
Protesters also took down a CCTV camera, and a balcony of the first floor of a building was set on fire. A local storefront was shown to be vandalized with paint bombs.
The city center has been sealed off by security forces, France Bleu reported.
Nine people were arrested in the city, according to the government of Brittany.
Tear gas was also deployed on protesters in Lyon.
Protests also took place in Paris, with a producer from RT's Ruptly getting caught in tear gas. The gas also spread into a nearby metro station.
The Paris demonstrations disrupted commuter traffic and led to the cancelation of flights at Orly airport.
Demonstrations against the labor law reforms since they were put forward by Labor Minister Myrian El Khomri. The government says the reforms – which focus on fighting unemployment by loosening protections on France's 35-hour work week and layoffs, and reducing overtime bonuses – will help curb the country's high unemployment rate. Protesters and workers' unions, however, say the government wants to make it easier and less costly for employers to lay off workers.
France's unemployment rate hit a record high last month, pushing jobless numbers to 3.591 million people, according to the Labor Ministry.