4 April: CPE protest live updates

Hour-by-hour coverage of the day of strikes, demonstrations and further blockades and occupations across France against the new employment law.

22h00
A demonstration in Nantes headed towards Bouffay, with stops at the UMP offices and the local Prefecture. A few bottles were thrown at the CRS. The demonstration headed towards Graslin Square where the majority dispersed. Shortly before midnight the cops, who were almost entirely absent this evening (or at least out of sight) encircled the few remaining people with a pincer movement. Roughly 70 cops, BAC officers and 7 vans were involved.There were still around 50 people left in Graslin Square. They were then attacked by the CRS, supported with CS gas grenades, we have confirmed reports of several arrests. The police have withdrawn, there are still BAC officers in the area. This appears to be a confirmation of an existing police practise of targetting the last few remaining protesters at a demonstration. Whether this is a sign of their increasing frustration in the face of their loss of control of the streets or an attempt to capture a hard core of the most dedicated protesters remains to be seen.


20h39
An eyewitness posts on libcom.org/forums

Left the place d'Italie where clashes where going on. Strong police charges with a lot of arrests, in the main streets of the area, I saw tens of police and gendarmerie cars with equiped cops driving fast near place d'Italie. I just have a friend of mine on the phone, and the situation is now more "calm".

Cops have new tactics since last week demonstration a lot of them - divided in groups of ten to fifty - are wearing civilian clothes and unions or parties badges - like demonstrators - and they charge by surprise in the flanks of rioters. So next struggle will be for the release of tens that have been caught today...

People are calling for "wild demonstrations" tonight in the north of Paris (18e, Pigalle...), so we will see.

By the way, great demonstration today.

20h28
Ouest France reports trouble in Angers, St Brieuc and Lorient. In Angers, up to a thousand youths in running street battles with the CRS.

20h08
A report from our correspondent on the ground in Bordeaux.

Today’s demonstration in Bordeaux was bigger than last Tuesday’s.

It was a fine spring day and the demo again gathered at the Place Tourny, with the cortege stretching along the Allees Tourny back to the Grand Theatre. Before the start of the march the mood was festive and more militant in the aftermath of Chirac’s speech on Friday night.

The demo was once again led by the students, who have become more organized and dedicated, more colourful and louder. Many had arrived in costume and the sans-culotte theme is very trendy among the French youth this season.

Behind, came the Unions and political parties, the unemployed and the people who are in general sympathy with the students. One gets the impression that this is an issue that crosses political affiliations – there were parents with young children in the cortege and they are concerned about their children’s future.

The demo proceeded up to Place Gambetta and along Cours d’Albret to the Place de la Victoire – but this time it didn’t stop there as the Place de la Victoire isn’t big enough to cope with the sheer number of people who turned out today. The Victoire was really just the half-way point as the demo made its way along the Quais to the Esplanade des Quinconces, which is one of the biggest public squares in Europe.

The crowd is always well controlled and the police keep a low profile, the atmosphere is one which people are united against a law that they see as wrong and a government that has been ruling by decree. There is an air of jubilance rather antagonism.

The square was the end point of the demo and many people gathered in a festive mood; groups of students playing djmebe drums to Unionists once again setting fire to an effigy of Villepin. His popularity is at an all time low and today’s turn out was larger than last week. The call in the street today was for him to resign.

17h23
BVA Poll: 45% of French now want Villepin to resign

17h22
12,000 to 15,000 in Dijon. Train station now occupied.

17h55
35,000 to 90,000 march in Toulouse
8000 to 20,000 in Perpignan
23,000 to 45,000 in Montpellier

Road blockages reported in Rennes and Laval.

a short road blockade interrupted by CRS charge in Rennes. photo: vanou
17h15
At least 20% of Public Sector workers have joined the strike according to government figures.

17h08
Reports of record numbers of protesters in the town of Nancy, between 26000 and 52000 people have joined demonstrations.The university also voted to continue a strike and blockade until Thursday. Elsewhere in the region:
Metz: 8000 demonstrators
Epinal: 3500-6000
Verdun: 700-900
Bar-le-Duc: 500-900

17h02
In the overseas territory of Reunion, there have been anti CPE marches, with 2500 to 6000 marchers in St. Pierre and 2000 to 6000 marchers in St. Denis

17h00
Over 3 million demonstrating across France, the CGT believe.
15,000 to 45,000 marching in Lille, tf1 report.

16h55
Police in Lorient use teargas to clear railway tracks occupied by around 300 demonstrators. Teargas fired and stones thrown in Saint Brieuc as several hundred high school pupils block roads. They now head towards the station, Ouest France report.

16h51
26,000 to 52,000 march in Nancy.

16h45
Trouble in Rennes, CRS riot police have charged demonstrators who had tried to reach the local UMP party offices.

16h41
45,000 to 120,000 march in Bordeaux, up from last weeks 31,000 to 100,000.

16h32
First pictures in from Paris demonstration:

Demonstrators gather in Place d'Italie earlier this afternoon

Photos from Brest, where up to 30,000 demonstrated this afternoon:


16h06
CGT estimating 700,000 marching in Paris
15h29

Marseille, where up to a quarter of a million marched

14h29
Le Monde is running a useful map showing demonstration sizes as they are reported.

15,000 to 45,000 reported demonstrating in Lyon. 14,000 to 40,000 in Pau. 10,500 to 31,000 in Limoges.

Demonstrators in Paris now gathering at the Place de la Republique, as they prepare to march towards Place d'Italie. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is said to be visiting Place d'Italie at 15h00 to speak to police

Meanwhile a call has been made for demonstrators to gather at Place Pigalle at 20h00 this evening.

14h05
More figures in from Brittany:

11,400-30,000 in St Brieuc
11,500-28,000 in Lorient
13,000-30,000 in Brest
8,000-20.000 in Quimper
5,600-12,000 in Vannes
1600-2700 in Saint-Lo

In Lorient, 200 protesters are on the railway tracks blocking trains.

13h48
28,000-60,000 in Grenoble
15,000-40,000 in Rouen
10,000-25,000 in Le Havre
13,500-50,000 in Clermont Ferrand
Marseille 250,000 (organisers figure)
21,000-50,000 in Rennes

12h32
10,000 to 20,000 in Tours
10,000 to 30,000 in Roanne

Both organisers figures slightly up from last week.

12h30
9,000 to 12,000 in Cherbourg, Brittany. This figure up from from last weeks police figure of 6,000 Ouest France report.

12h26
Ouest France reporting around 7,000 to 8,000 in Lannion, compared to last weeks 7,000. They report 30,000 in Rennes, 10,000 in Quimper, 12,000 in Lorient. tf1 reporting 5,000 to 16,000 in Reims.

12h10
First reports of numbers for todays demonstrations:

52,000 to 100,000 in Nantes, compared to last weeks 42,000 to 70,000.
10,000 - 35,000 in Le Mans, compared to last weeks 10,000 to 30,000

12h05
In the small town of Belley 1000 protesters, of which 250 were students, assembled at the station and then marched to the main roundabout. The roundabout was blocked by protesters, linking arms to symbolise their unity. Ther march then proceeded to the town hall at 12, the town hall has now been occupied by students.

12h02
30% of Air France flights cancelled at the airport Toulouse-Blagnac.

2 TGV out of 3 running, 45% of regular trains

Light disturbances in the Parisian subway with 3 out of 4 running on the lines 3bis, 6, 7, 8 and 9 and 2 out of 3 in circulation on lines 2, 3 and 1.

on the RER Line A (cross-Paris suburban metro system), the traffic is assured on average of 51% trains. 37 % of the traffic on the RER B and 56 % on the RER C 50 to 56 % of the trains roll on RER D. 53% on the RER E.

"the withdrawal of the CPE is negotiable. I hope that the demonstrations will help us to carry a fatal blow" says Bernard Thibault of the CGT union.

Delays of 45 to 90 minutes at Orly airport.

Consumption of alcohol prohibited during the demonstration in Strasbourg.

At the airport of Marseilles-Marignane, 32 cancelled domestic flights.

At Nice, 22 flights cancelled because of stops of work of the air controllers

Anti-CPE demonstrators block the accesses to the industrial park of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

8.4% of postal workers striking compared to 14.7% during last weeks strike, report Le Figaro. 18.3% of railway workers striking, compared to 27.7% last week.

4,000 police deployed in Paris ahead of todays demonstration.