Paris Officials Question 30 Over May Day Ruckus at Hospital

Paris Officials Question 30 Over May Day Ruckus at Hospital
An injured demonstrator is helped during a May Day rally in Paris, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Francois Mori/AP)
The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — Authorities in Paris questioned 32 people May 2 about May Day marchers who scaled a fence and tried to enter a hospital, while questions remained over whether the group intended trouble or was trying to flee police tear gas.

By the end of the day, there was still no answer. The suspects detained for questioning were let go, an official with the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

The director of the Paris public hospital system had said he planned to file a complaint with police about the intrusion at Pitie Salpetriere University Hospital during an annual International Workers’ Day march organized by labor unions.

Dozens of people scaled the fence leading to a courtyard and tried to storm an emergency exit in a post-surgery ward on the afternoon of May 1, Martin Hirsch, the Paris public hospital system director, said. Doctors and nurses kept the door closed before police arrived, Hirsch said.

Computer equipment in another part of the hospital was damaged, and “the consequences could have been very serious,” Hirsch said.

Confusion surrounds the alleged actions of the May Day marchers.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner called the incident an “attack.” But activists with the yellow vest movement, a left-wing politician and some news outlets suggested march participants were trying to escape tear gas fired by riot police.

The questioning of the 32 suspects brought no clarity, and they were released.

“The investigation is continuing to shed light on the circumstances of the intrusion within the health facility,” the official in the prosecutor’s office said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about ongoing investigations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Paris May Day rally was disrupted several times by clusters of anarchists, supporters of the anti-government yellow vest movement and troublemakers who threw rocks at officers and set vehicles and trash cans on fire.

French officials deployed 7,400 officers to police the event.

French broadcaster BFMTV aired a video that showed dozens of people clamoring up steps that led to a glass door leading to the post-surgery unit and nurses and other staff members blocking the door from the inside.

BFMTV said the video was recorded by a nurse’s aide.

During a 2016 demonstration against labor reforms, another Paris hospital sustained damage after troublemakers hurled paving stones and other objects at the building.

By Elaine Ganley