Minority mars Paris CPE protest

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Car on fire near Place de la Nation

(This is a translation of the French Wikinews article: [1] Manifestation contre le CPE à Paris)


A demonstration was planned for two p.m. [local time and UTC, Saturday, March 18], departing from the Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris. Everyone had set out by three p.m., the crowd being compact.

Retired people, post-highschool students, highschool students and employees all gathered to protest against the government's

The crowd of demonstrators

bill establishing the "Contrat Première Embauche," — First Employment Contract.

A security service provided by the unions maintained order more or less well. Even so, an impressive body of very visible police sought to prevent any excess.

The first demonstrators arrived about five p.m. at the Place de la Nation, in a festive atmosphere.

Police (CRS) preceding the procession

In the procession were musicians, grimy youths and colorful banners. Along the edges of the procession and at the Place de la Nation could even be seen sellers of sandwiches and drinks.


Demonstrators on the statue of the Place de la Nation

Toward six p.m., some hooded youths began to confront the forces of order massed at the edges of the Place de la Nation. They threw bottles and pyrotechnical devices and burned a car. The confrontation, which lasted at least until eight p.m., produced one serious injury — a SUD-PTT union member, who it seems was struck by members of the CRS security force.

Broken window at the Place de la Nation

Some demonstrators at first sought to place themselves between the ruffians and the police, but they had to give it up, faced with the barrage of bottles.

After the automobile fire, around seven p.m., the mobile gendarmes charged, in order to establish a security perimeter around the vehicle on fire, to permit the firemen to extinguish it. In view of the small distance that separated the "forces of order" from the brigands when they burned the car, one can ask why the mobile gendarmes did not try to prevent this act of gratuitous vandalism.

Hooligans throw bottles at the police

The police charged several times and threw tear gas. By eight p.m., the confrontations still continued, and a mobile gendarme said that the objective was to make the demonstrators leave the Place de la Nation. A strange impression is felt when this sort of occurrence breaks out in a demonstration that was until then well-mannered. It is like thunder from a blue sky.

The mobile gendarmes

The crowd suddenly opened, and the hooligans were there, ready to come unglued, the crowd of demonstrators transforming themselves into rubberneckers around the protagonists of the confrontation.

Once again, a few provocateurs, undoubtedly fewer than about thirty, caused a movement of several tens of thousands of people to get out of hand.