May 2, 2019 - 12:10 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Clouds of tear gas billowed near the Montparnasse Tower on Wednesday, May 1 as police used force to suppress violence during annual May Day demonstrations marking workers' rights in Paris, Al Jazeera reports.
The marches came less than a week after French President Emmanuel Macron announced he would lower taxes and raise pensions in response to the ongoing "yellow vest" protests.
The measures were in large part dismissed by the movement's leaders and protesters, who echoed their stance on Wednesday at the demonstrations.
"He didn't give us anything concrete," said Corinne Sion, a 57-year-old yellow vest protester who has been unemployed for more than a year now.
Sion, who came from the Paris suburbs with her husband to join the demonstrations, said she also wanted to see lower value-added taxes (VAT) so she could afford basic needs such as bread and milk.
The yellow vests joined France's national labour unions and other groups, bringing in at least 164,500 people across the country, according to the French interior ministry. The CGT union claimed the number of protesters was higher, at 310,000.
In Paris, divisions quickly grew between demonstrators as some started using force. Police responded by sending waves of tear gas into the crowd.
In advance of the Paris protests, police ordered nearly 600 shops along the official demonstration route from the Boulevard du Montparnasse to Paris d'Italie to close, and told other cafes and restaurants to carry out bag searches and identity checks.
Other parts of the city, including the Champs-Elysees and area surrounding Notre Dame, were blocked off entirely to protesters as well as tourists.