Protests continue to erupt across France after Macron imposed pension reform, and rioters have set fire to a town hall and clashed with police.
An overnight blaze destroyed a town hall in Lyon, France’s third-largest city, as rioters continued to demonstrate against the government’s plans to raise the retirement age in France.
On the second night of major rioting in France, angry crowds chanting “revolution” also descended upon the largest square in Paris.
During the violent demonstrations in Lyon against French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms, rioters broke into a local town hall and set it on fire.
The historic town hall for the city’s fourth arrondissement was broken into by masked youths early on Saturday morning, who then ransacked it and set it on fire.
They broke in through the broken door, according to a police spokesman in the area.
The building was vandalized with broken windows, overturned furniture, and an arson attempt.
Slogans like “Macron is done” and “Power to the People” were written in marker on the walls.
Crowds yelling “Revolution!” flooded into Paris’s largest square, the Place de La Concorde, as violence spread across France for a second night.
Police used tear gas and baton charges in an attempt to clear the historic square that was the site of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s executions.
Traffic was blocked all over Paris and police pepper-sprayed young protesters earlier that day near the prestigious Sorbonne University.
According to Gerald Darmanin, the country’s interior minister, police made another 61 arrests late on Friday night, bringing the total number of arrests since Thursday to 310.
This comes as regular French citizens are venting their frustration with President Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64.
Macron made the controversial decision to bypass a vote in the French parliament on Thursday and force through the change in law.
French lawmakers protested the lack of a vote on the bill by holding up signs and singing the Marseillaise in parliament.
One protester in Place de la Concorde slammed the measure as “undemocratic” and branded Macron a “detested head of state”.
A 38-year-old man who did not give his name continued: “There are all kinds of French citizens here, and we are voicing our opposition to his dictatorship.
Every night until Macron caves, we will be here.
Protesters have predicted a wave of demonstrations in 2018 similar to the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement.
Earlier on Friday, opposition parties attempted to topple Macron’s government by introducing no-confidence votes.
More strikes are planned by unions in the hopes of coercing Macron into a U-turn.
The Parisian streets are littered with trash because the workers who normally collect it went on strike to protest the upcoming changes.
Since the strike began, about 9,000 tons of garbage have not been collected, and the unions have promised to keep that up until next week.
Proponents of the amendment argue that it is necessary to prevent the insolvency of the French pension system.
France has a relatively young retirement age compared to other European countries, at 62.
However, a recent poll conducted by France’s RTL radio station indicates that 80% of French people are opposed to the planned increase, and that nearly 2/3 of the population approves of the strikes and protests.
Many protesters have demanded that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes to help offset rising pension costs.