- Posted October 19, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Pension strikes in France
Students riot over pension reform in Lyon, France
LYON, FRANCE- For days now France has been in turmoil over the proposed pension reform which promises to increase the retirement age in France from 60 to 62. On 19 Oct 2010 students took to Place Bellecour in Lyon, France to protest the reform. Protests quickly turned violent upon the arrival of the French riot police.
Clashes between protesters and police lasted from morning till sundown. The scene was one of anarchy as students destroyed whatever was in sight, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. On Rue Victor Hugo (just south of Bellecour), protesters took trashcans and rocks and threw them through storefront windows, causing thousands of euros in damage. Store fronts and windows of cars surrounding the plaza also sustained heavy damage.
In Bellecour, students played a game of cat and mouse with the police, throwing large rocks at police only to run as tear gas was fired into the crowds. On multiple occasions police would leave their protected lines to advance on students, only to have the students run away. Fires could be seen burning throughout Bellecour as students set light to anything they could get their hands on, mainly the public trashcans in the plaza.
Most of the "protesters" are high school students. Many of them come from the Arab parts of town and are referring to this riot simply as a "continuation" of the turmoil that struck France in 2005 in which thousands of cars were burned throughout France after an Arab boy was killed after running from police.
While there were many out creating destruction, it seemed that few were really truly passionate about the "cause" but were rather using the riot as an opportunity to vent anger and frustration at the French authorities. When one student was asked whether he supported the demonstration or the police, he simply shrugged.
All in all it seems that the riots are more so an expression of anger and resentment towards the French government in general than any actual passion towards the pension reform itself.
With the damage of today's riots still apparent, the city of Lyon will be holding its breath to see what the next few days hold. If riots and damage seen today continue, the cat will have to dramatically pick up its game if it is to catch the young mice wandering this city.
Reported by Mike Masten
*Mike is a photographer and former student from Lyon. He is currently visiting Lyon on holiday and came across the riots. You can email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also see all of his photos at: http://picasaweb.google.com/Mike.Masten/LyonRiots#