French police clash with anti-racism activists in Paris

French police clash with anti-racism activists in Paris
Anti-racism activists gathered in Paris to protest against racism. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: French police have clashed with anti-racism activists protesting in Paris against alleged police brutality and racism.

Police used tear gas against stone-throwing protesters who tried to hold a march that was banned. The rally was a part of worldwide movement of Black Lives Matter movement, which started in the US after the death of Goerge Floyed, a black man in police custody.

It was organised under the banner “Justice for Adama”, after Adama Traoré, a young black man who died in French police custody in 2016.

What happened in Paris?

On Sunday afternoon, about 15,000 anti-racism protesters gathered on the Place de la République in central Paris. Demonstrators chanted slogans such as “No justice, no peace”. Some climbed on the statue of Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic.

Adama’s sister Assa Traoré was among the anti-racism activists, who called on them to “denounce social, racial, police violence”.

She said: “What’s happening in the United States is happening in France. Our brothers are dying.”

Although the anti-racism activists were allowed to gather but they were prevented by police from marching to the Opera area.

The planned onward march had been banned because of the potential threat to local businesses. Clashes erupted with the police when officers moved against the protesters on the Place de la République. Police then fired tear gas to the protesters.

At least 26 people were questioned by police, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Demonstrators had dispersed by early evening.

Smaller protests were held in other French cities, including Marseille and Lyon.

Why are French police in the spotlight?

France’s police watchdog says it received almost 1,500 complaints against officers last year – half of them for alleged violence.

Police are accused of seriously wounding a 14-year-old boy in one recent case, when he was detained on suspicion of trying to steal a scooter in Bondy near Paris last month.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Monday announced a ban on the police “chokehold” method for restraining some suspects.

The announcement came after thousands of protesters took to the streets accusing French police of using brutality towards minorities.

Mr Castaner said that there would be “zero tolerance” of racism in law enforcement and officers strongly suspected of racism would be suspended.

He has faced a backlash from officers and police unions, who denied that racism was rampant within their ranks.

Police officers rallied on the Champs-Élysées throwing their handcuffs on the ground.

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