Hundreds of masked, black-clad militants from France’s far-left extremist scene—or ‘anti-fascists,’ as they prefer to call themselves—intimidated and attacked police officers in the northern city of Lille on Saturday while endeavoring to shut down a campaign event for presidential hopeful Éric Zemmour.
Some 1,000 activists, including 200 radical leftist militants, gathered around the city’s Porte de Paris monument on Saturday afternoon, before marching a few streets over to block off access to the Grand Palais, the location of Zemmour’s rally. When police obstructed their advancement, violence erupted and the militants attacked authorities with projectiles and other objects, Le Figaro reports.
Following the outbreak of violence, which police promptly suppressed with riot shields and tear gas canisters, six of the militants were arrested and one police officer suffered injuries, according to a report from Le Point.
Earlier in the day, at the behest of a far-left, pro-mass migration NGO and Lille’s Socialist mayor Martine Aubry, a separate demonstration of 500 activists gathered in the city center to denounce Zemmour’s candidacy.
During the rally, which took place after the attack, in the late afternoon hours, Zemmour ridiculed the leftist mayor who said that he “was, and never will be welcome in Lille,” telling the crowd of some 8,000 supporters that she “had nothing to say when entire districts of her city evade the French Republic, whose laws are replaced by Sharia law.”
Throughout his address, the Reconquête leader zeroed in on crucial economic and social issues like class reconciliation and collaboration—uniting French workers and the ‘patriotic bourgeoisie,’ as he calls them—along with the unfair strain maladapted foreigners place on France’s generous social welfare system. He also slammed out-of-touch, entrenched political elites who’ve levied increasingly high taxes on the working and middle classes.
“All of the Third World benefits, it waters the cities, it feeds the Islamists, but it strangles the middle classes and abandons the working classes,” said Zemmour.
“As soon as we come to power, we will stop taking from the French the billions spent each year on the millions of foreigners who live on our soil. We are going to find our social model so that it becomes truly French again,” Zemmour declared, slamming Macron’s liberal government for financing its “own [people’s] replacement.”
“They won’t downgrade us! They will not subdue us! They would have to rip our hearts out, and they won’t!” Zemmour proclaimed passionately.
At one point over the course of his speech, Zemmour addressed France’s dismal birthrates, highlighting a policy his campaign unveiled days ago that, if enacted, would provide a birth bonus of 10,000 euros for each baby born to French families living in a rural area.
“Each year, unaccompanied minors cost the French 2 billion euros, 50,000 euros per year per minor, 4,000 euros per month. They have committed 5000 acts of delinquency in Paris alone in 2020 alone. As they are minors, they do not go to prison! I will put an end to this injustice. For me, justice means taking these 2 billion euros and giving it to French people in rural communities who have children. 10,000 euros for a Frenchman born in these municipalities. How does that compare to 50,000 per unaccompanied minor?”