Hundreds of protesters storm famous Paris monument

Protesters cast a shadow as they march on a street

Hundreds of undocumented migrants have entered the Pantheon monument in Paris to protest French asylum policies.

The group, reportedly composed of “undocumented migrants”, called themselves “black vests” – a reference to anti-government protests involving “yellow vest” protesters – as reported by Reuters.

The group demanded the right to remain in Paris, with a leaflet given out by an organiser of the protest reading: “We will remain here until the last one of us has been given documents.”

The protest was reportedly peaceful; however, France 24 said on Saturday that 21 of the protesters had been arrested by police and that they will be held pending investigation for potentially “violating legislation on foreigners.”

This isn’t the first time that protests have taken place over France’s asylum policy.

In May, hundreds of undocumented migrants represented by the support group La Chapelle Debout occupied the Chales de Gaulle Airport in peaceful protest.

Two days later in a separate incident, French riot police were forced to fire teargas into masked protesters attempting to occupy the Champs Élysées, following Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday.

Bastille Day protest

European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, joined French President Emmanuel Macron in commemorating Bastille Day, with the event showcasing European military prowess.

The French national holiday marks the storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris during the French Revolution on 14 July, 1789.

Following the Bastille Day Champs Élysées parade, The Guardian reported that riot police fired teargas to disperse a masked protest, after a few dozen men briefly tried to block roads near the Arc de Triomphe by dragging metal security barriers and setting fire to bins.

As police rushed into the streets around the Champs Elysées on Sunday, tourists were seen fleeing from the teargas.

The skirmishes, which ended quickly, reportedly marked the worst clashes between riot police and masked demonstrators in central Paris since anti-government protests in March. The men involved were not wearing the signature yellow vests of the anti-government gilets jaunes protests of the past eight months.

Riot police reportedly cleared the roads and took up their position on main streets and calm was restored. Earlier that day, before the traditional annual military parade, some 152 people were arrested as they tried to stage a separate demonstration.

In December, around 125,000 yellow vest protesters came up against 89,000 police. The following clash left dozens of people injured and resulted in the closure of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.

Latest News