Monday's (2 April) mass march through Paris in protest at the government's abolition of deferment from military service for students attracted over 60,000 demonstrators.
Monday's (2 April) mass march through Paris in protest at the government's abolition of deferment from military service for students attracted over 60,000 demonstrators. It began with about 20,000 high school students and they were joined by other groups from side streets as they marched in a two-mile (three kilometres) procession from the main Gare de L'Est railway station.
In the past, students have been given deferment from military service until the age of 27. But now they will be expected to complete their one year of service between the ages of 18 and 21. The swelling protest movement against the new law had already closed several schools and universities in the past few weeks.
Monday's march was permitted by the Paris Police Prefect -- who promised not to let security forces intervene unless the marchers became violent. Some of the marcher, wearing scarves over their mouths against possible tear-gas grenades, chanted "it will be a long, hot spring this year" -- the slogan of the violent May, 1968 student rebellion. Later that night, some of the demonstrators who refused to disperse were moved by baton-wielding riot police and tear gas.