We arrived at about 2:30 pm at Bastille and just as we got close to the protest, hundreds of anti-riot police were blocking the street. They let my partner into the middle of the street and I was shouldered to the side, a police officer asked for my legal status, I said "I'm an Australian journalist" and within seconds it all went to chaos. The riot police charged against pretty much anyone who was in front of them, they broke the skull of an old guy and they violently beat another protestor right in front of me.
Thousands of protestors that ranged in ages and races and included children in prams walked towards Place de Republique, chanting against labor laws that weaken the power of workers. "The people united, will never be defeated" and "capitalism stinks" were amongst the chants. "It's already our 14th protest, I really hate capitalism" a young blond girl with tattoos told me, "the system is racist and broken" complemented her black friend, both girls were teenagers.
The majority of protest barely entered the plaza taking a hard right while the young protestors remained at the Place de la Republique where confrontations with police grew, in exchanges between tear gas, pepper spray and a sporadic molotov.
We left as 10 police officers were arresting a young boy, kicking him on the floor and trying to cover their action from the cameras by putting their shield and their feet together.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité? I'm not so sure any longer.