Violence erupts at Paris protest, police fire tear at 20,000-strong crowd

Some 20,000 people defied a ban in Paris on Tuesday to protest the 2016 death of a young black man in French police custody, some clashing with police and using slogans like those used in the demonstrations raging in the US.

The protesters rallied outside a Paris court despite a coronavirus ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, before clashes erupted involving tear gas, rubber bullets, burning barricades and projectiles.

They were protesting after the release of two differing medical reports into the cause of Adama Traore’s death, whose case has long been a rallying cry against police brutality in France.

Many of the protesters drew inspiration from the protest movement in the United States over the police killing last week of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, brandishing viral slogans in English such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe”.

The protest started in the late afternoon outside the court in northeast Paris, before projectiles were thrown and the police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, which scattered into the surrounding streets, AFP journalists witnessed.

Sporadic clashes broke out near the ringroad that encircles Paris, with stones thrown at the police, who responded by firing rubber bullets.

Barricades were erected in some streets.

“There were some incidents on the sidelines of the banned protest and security forces are intervening,” the Paris police prefecture tweeted. The police estimated that around 20,000 people attended the protest.

Earlier in the day Traore’s elder sister Assa spoke to the large crowd.

“Today we are not just talking about the fight of the Traore family. It is the fight for everyone. When we fight for George Floyd, we fight for Adama Traore,” she said.

“What is happening in the United States is an echo of what is happening in France.”

Protests were held across France, with 2,500 protesters attending a rally in the northern city of Lille, 1,800 in Marseille, and 1,200 in Lyon.(JAKARTA POST)

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