Protesters promise return to Paris plaza after police clearing

Demonstrators protesting labour reforms and inequality promised Monday to return to a central square to continue their 11-night encampment, after French police cleared the Parisian plaza in the early morning.

Calling themselves Nuit Debout (roughly Rise Up At Night), the protest participants have swelled on weeks-long discontent with a raft of labour reforms that the country's Socialist government is trying to push through.

Protests have seen hundreds of people gathered in Paris' Place de la Republique every night since late March. It has also grown to other cities, and taken on a broader message.

"The debates taking place in the assemblies on Republic square prove that the general exasperation goes way beyond the Labour Law and opens a more global issue: the reconsideration of a social and political system stuck into a deep crisis and on its way out," organizers said in a statement.

Attempting to address demands for better opportunities, Prime Minister Manuel Valls met with youth organizations. After the meeting, Valls, along with education and sports ministers, announced a series of measures to help ameliorate youth unemployment and expand apprenticeships.

The measures, to be introduced as an amendment or addition to other legislation, would cost between 400 million-500 million euros (456 million-570 million dollars) annually.

Nevertheless, a small but growing number of people began gathering in the plaza on Monday afternoon.

According to television images, Paris police and other authorities took bulldozers and shovels to clear a series of tents and other message-bearing structures in the morning. Eight arrests took place over the weekend, newspaper Le Monde reported.

Protesters have shied away from naming leaders or keeping to limited platforms, prompting observers to draw comparisons to the Occupy movement that began in the US and the Madrid-based anti-austerity movement 15-M.

"What you see here is an enormous spontaneity that brings together people of different milieux and ages," said Laurent, 64, a retiree who came to the plaza mostly out of curiosity.

"I don't know what this will lead to, but you can see the breadth of the event, and that will start to unsettle politics," he said.

Last update: Mon, 11/04/2016 - 20:21
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