Paris riot police swarmed the French capital’s historic Bastille area on Thursday as protesters gathered for the latest march in a marathon campaign against labor reforms that has seen recurring violence.
Paris riot police swarmed the French capital's historic Bastille area on Thursday as protesters gathered for the latest march in a marathon campaign against labor reforms that has seen recurring violence.
As President Francois Hollande vowed his Socialist government would "go all the way" to enact the reforms, armored vehicles choked the avenues leading to the Place de la Bastille where the march was set to kick off at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT).
The march was given the go-ahead after bitter negotiations in which the government first tried to ban it on security grounds, before backing down and agreeing to allow a short, tightly contained route.
The threat of a ban -- which would have been the first in 54 years -- only deepened the rancor between the government and unions who accuse Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls of flouting democratic values.
Eric Coquerel of France's Left Party said Thursday that in a "normal democracy, Manuel Valls would resign" following the prime minister's vocal support for a ban.
Valls warned that fresh violence would not be tolerated after the last protest on June 14 saw bloody clashes just four days after the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament hosted by France.
Two police officers were hospitalized, while another 26 were injured.
More than 2,000 police have been deployed for the march, and around 100 people will be barred from taking part, police chief Michel Cadot said Wednesday.
He said marchers would be screened and searched "to prevent them from bringing in projectiles or items for disguising themselves."
Last week masked protesters smashed up storefronts and attacked a children's hospital, shattering some of its windows, while others hurled projectiles at police, who made dozens of arrests.