The funeral of 23-year-old Pierre Overney, a Maoist supporter who was shot at the gates of the Renault Car Works by a security guard just over a week ago, was held in Paris on Saturday (4 March).
The funeral of 23-year-old Pierre Overney, a Maoist supporter who was shot at the gates of the Renault Car Works by a security guard just over a week ago, was held in Paris on Saturday (4 March). The funeral cortege was followed through the crowded streets of central Paris by a protest march of leftist supporters who were joined eventually by an estimated 100,000 supporters. The march had begun outside the famous Parisian cabaret, The Moulin Rouge, and made its way through four miles of thoroughfares to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery... scene of bloody fighting in the Paris Commune 100 years ago, and burial place of prominent French Leftists. Dotted along the processional route were demonstrators carrying large red banners and pictures of young bearded Pierre Overney... many of them chanting slogans hostile to the Communist Party which refused to take part in the march, and has blamed the Maoists and the management of the state-owned Renault plant for Overney's death.
At the gates of the cemetery only the immediate family and left-wing leaders were allowed in. As the march broke up several hundred militants gathered in a nearby square to listen to speeches and sing lustily. They also lit a giant bonfire. A force of riot troopers, and armed police dispersed the crowd outside the cemetery. As the marchers streamed back from the cemetery isolated clashes were reported, but the worst fears of the authorities who had organised a special police force of 10,000, backed by para- military gendarmerie units, spotter helicopters, and barricade-busting bulldozers, weren't realised. The funeral march was the largest demonstration in Paris since the May 1968 riots.
SYNOPSIS: The largest demonstration in Paris, since the riots of May 1968, was held on Saturday as an estimated 100 thousand supporters joined a protest march by leftist groups behind the funeral cortege of a young Maoist shot a week ago.
Pierre Overney's coffin was borne through the crowded streets of central Paris on 8 march which had started outside the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret, and was to end four miles later at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
At the cemetery, scene of bloody fighting in the Paris Commune 100 years ago, and burial place of prominent French Leftists, only Overney's immediate family and leftist leaders were allowed inside the gates. This prompted initial unrest among the marchers, who had expected to be allowed to enter, but their biggest victory could have been the support they received from groups they had not recently been on speaking terms with. Apart from the main communist and Maoist groups, splinter Trotskyite movements and pro-Palestine, Basque, and Breton Autonomist groups were present. Although some of the crowd assembled in a nearby square and took some time to disperse, authorities were relieved that massive riot precautions had not been needed.