Arrests in Paris as thousands join May Day protests across France

Hooded, black-clad demonstrators clashed with police in Paris on Saturday as thousands of people joined traditional May Day protests across France to demand social and economic justice and voice their opposition to government plans to change unemployment benefits.

Police made 46 arrests in the capital, where garbage bins were set on fire and the windows of a bank branch were smashed, momentarily delaying the march.

More than 106,000 people marched throughout France, including 17,000 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.

Trade unionists were joined by members of the “Yellow Vest” movement, which triggered a wave of anti-government protests three years ago, and by workers from sectors hit hard by pandemic restrictions such as culture. [ . . . ]

Source: Arrests in Paris as thousands join May Day protests across France | Reuters

Culture under lockdown in Paris: When the opera comes to you

In this edition we discover a very special type of concert. With venues closed due to Covid-19, classical musicians are bringing their art to the courtyards of Parisians, as our team reports. We also look at several symbols of France, including the famous “baguette”. We see what makes it so special and why the French are campaigning for it to be included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. Meanwhile, the Château de Versailles, another symbol of French culture and history, is welcoming back the luxurious desk of Louis XVI after two years of restoration. 

FRANCE 24

Paris medics fear worst of COVID wave still to come

In the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Antony Private Hospital south of Paris, no bed stays free for long and medics wonder when their workload will finally peak.

As one recovered elderly patient is being wheeled out of the ward, smiling weakly, boss Jean-Pierre Deyme is on the phone arranging the next arrival and calling out instructions to staff.

Louisa Pinto, a nurse of nearly 20 years’ experience, gestures to the vacated room where a cleaner is already at work, scrubbing down the mattress for the next arrival.

“The bed won’t even have time to cool down,” she says as the patient monitoring system beeps constantly in the background.

For now, everything is stable in the 20-odd beds around her where COVID-19 victims lie inanimate, in a silent battle with the virus.

Paris is going through a third wave of the pandemic which risks putting even more strain on saturated hospitals than the first wave in March and April last year.

“With what’s coming in April, it’s going to be very complicated,” says Pinto, a mother of three who hasn’t had a holiday since last summer and like other staff will be cancelling a planned break this month [ . . . ]

Continue at Medical Xpress: Paris medics fear worst of COVID wave still to come

Opinion | What France does not understand about racism and safe spaces

In a country where the circles of power are overwhelmingly White and male, the fact that many important decisions are made by exclusively White groups would be a good reason to spark outrage.

Centering spaces around the voices of those who experience oppression is the only way for them to identify strategies to deconstruct structural inequalities.

Mélanie Luce is the first woman of color to lead the UNEF, a progressive student union founded in 1907 in France. When she joined a news show to speak about the precarious social conditions of students, she could not guess that she would soon be the center of national attention. Luce admitted that the union sometimes organized safe spaces to support students of color, and the interviewer labeled the initiative as “closed to White people.”

The outrage quickly spread across the political landscape. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer called the meetings “racist,” “deeply outrageous” and potentially “leading to things that look like fascism.” He added he was exploring the legal grounds to prevent the meetings.

In the Senate, the right-wing party the Republicans drafted a letter to the justice minister, claiming the meetings did not comply with “French values,” as if there were no racial issues in France. Legislator Julien Aubert alerted the Paris prosecutor and said in a statement that the interior minister should consider the dissolution of the UNEF, backing the viral hashtag #dissolutionunef. [ . . . ]

Continue at WASHINGTON POST: Opinion | What France does not understand about racism and safe spaces – The Washington Post

Commemoration begins of the bloody weeks of the Paris Commune of 1871

Paris has launched two months of events commemorating a radical experiment in people power, which continues to divide and inspire in equal measures 150 years later.

The 1871 Paris Commune, an uprising against a conservative government by working-class Parisians that was brutally crushed after 72 days, is one of the lesser-known chapters in French history.

But its memory still looms large in left-wing rebellions worldwide and in Paris with the towering Sacre-Coeur basilica in Montmartre, built by the victors on the ruins of the crushed Commune.

The revolt erupted after the Franco-Prussian war and ended in a bloodbath, with government troops massacring between 6,000 to 20,000 people during la semaine sanglante (bloody week) that ended the Parisians’ brief flirtation with self-rule.

Last week, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo inaugurated a programme of 50 events commemorating the Commune, including exhibitions, plays, conferences and debates.

But with public sympathies still divided been the “Communards” and the “Versaillais” government, trying to rally Parisians around a shared reading of what Karl Marx described as “France’s civil war” is proving difficult. Continue reading “Commemoration begins of the bloody weeks of the Paris Commune of 1871”