Demonstration against Sarkozy and his reforms.

Today there was a large demonstration called to protest against Sarkozy's planned education reforms. Students from various universities had voted to attend the demonstration.

There was an AG at Nanterre before the march but unfortunately I was not able to attend and I arrived a little after the march had set off. What was noticeable was that busy streets were practically deserted, with groups of 10-30 riot police stationed at frequent intervals in side streets with groups of five or so moving into areas as the marchers left.

My first count of numbers gave a figure of about 2000 marchers, but as we moved along the numbers grew to as many as three thousand. The march followed a truck with a loudspeaker that tried to get the crowd singing. There were some small blocks on the demonstration, roughly forty from the youth wing of the French Communist Party (PCF) carrying flags, some 20 from the communist revolutionary league (LCR) and a group os 150-200 schoolchildren marching behind the banner: prevention is better than cure, no to Sarkozy.The were about thirty people from both the CNT and Alternative Libertaire moving through the crowd as well.

The march set off from Bastille at around 2:30pm and arrived at place de la Nation at around 3:30pm. At Nation some ten roads converge onto two huge concentric roundabouts. We stopped at the end of the road and spilled into Place de la Nation. The truck carrying the loudspeakers stopped and we heard some short speeches, at about 4pm the declared over the speakers that the demonstration was finished and advised us to go home.

At around 4:20pm the police started to let traffic into the inner ring of Place de la Nation. At first peope moved out of the way, but then people moved into the centre to retake the road. At this point we held the road where it intersected the boulevard we had walked up, we then took the next road leading in. Some cars drove directly at demonstrators and forced their way through. The police then set a road block up further round the inner ring and we had no more traffic to contend with, apart from one guy who sat there for a good twenty minutes refusing to reverse.

The tactical mistake was that as we al moved into the inner ring to take the roads we lost the outer ring. We now held a third of the inner ring and nothing more. By this point numbers had dwindled to about 400. With the CRS ready to pounce but deliberately held far enough back not to give a target the protest seemed to fizzle out, there was a band playing but they moved into the bandstand and left the road.

At about 5:30pm it seemed as if nothing more was likely to happen, there were not enough people there to do anything, nor any sign of real will to do anything. It was at this point I went home.

Group of Lycee students:

Loudspeaker truck at the head of the march:

PCF youth wing: