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Anger, Grenades, and Barricades on May 1 in Nantes

My mum and I left home with black masks—May Day 2023 was going to be warm and sunny with a high chance of tear gas and grenade.

These days, every single protest in France turns violent, even the classic trade union-led May Day marches. I guess that’s what happens when the government invests in police forces and stockpiles riot control agents instead of investing in culture and education…

We were hoping for an historical May 1 nationwide considering most of the country is still very pissed off with the recent pension reform. This is exactly what happened. In Nantes, over 80,000 showed up.

We ended up marching with the black-clad anarchists, lovely folks who have it figured out as you will see from the pictures below. Don’t get fooled by the umbrella—it was hot and sunny, umbrellas are used as shields against tear gas and grenades.

I don’t throw projectiles but I have decent urban guerilla skills and it was fun to document the six-hour-long (!) protest through the city.

The starting point May 1 protest, Nantes
The starting point May 1 protest, Nantes
The starting point May 1 protest, Nantes
The starting point May 1 protest, Nantes
The starting point May 1 protest, Nantes
The starting point May 1 protest, Nantes
First, let's destroy video surveillance, May 1 protest, Nantes
First, let’s destroy video surveillance, May 1 protest, Nantes
First, let's destroy video surveillance, May 1 protest, Nantes
First, let’s destroy video surveillance, May 1 protest, Nantes
Just a few items for the barricades, May 1 protest, Nantes
Just a few items for the barricades, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
Basic protest gear gloves and marks, May 1 protest, Nantes
Basic protest gear gloves and marks, May 1 protest, Nantes
Weapons for the protest, May 1 protest, Nantes
Weapons for the protest, May 1 protest, Nantes
"I'm not very happy", May 1 protest, Nantes
“I’m not very happy”, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
First tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
More tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
More tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
More tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
More tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
More tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
More tear gas, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
(Street) coffee break, May 1 protest, Nantes
(Street) coffee break, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Thou shall not pass, May 1 protest, Nantes
Went through anyway, May 1 protest, Nantes
Went through anyway, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
Bring back your gear to the union truck, can be used for future protests, May 1 protest, Nantes
Bring back your gear to the union truck, can be used for future protests, May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
May 1 protest, Nantes
"If you're not on police files, you've failed at life", May 1 protest, Nantes
“If you’re not on police files, you’ve failed at life”, May 1 protest, Nantes
"Told you we were here"
“Told you we were here”, May 1 protest, Nantes
"Happy riot"
“Happy riot”, May 1 protest, Nantes
Still here
“Still here”, May 1 protest, Nantes
On May 1, go for it
“On May 1, go for it”, May 1 protest, Nantes
This wasn't the grand finale
“This wasn’t the grand finale”, May 1 protest, Nantes
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Zhu

French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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