Police use tear gas against racial injustice protesters in France

Protesters react during a demonstration Tuesday

Many said they were inspired by the ongoing protests in the USA following the death of Floyd, a black man who was pinned to the pavement by a white police officer, but had turned out also to call for change in Australia's treatment of its indigenous population, particularly by police.

French protesters took a knee and raised their fists while firefighters struggled to extinguish multiple blazes as a largely peaceful, multiracial demonstration degenerated into scattered tensions.

Protests in France also demanded justice for Adama Traoré, a French black man who died in police custody in 2016.

Electric scooters and construction barriers went up in flames, and smoke stained a sign reading "Restaurant Open" - on the first day French cafes were allowed to open after almost three months of virus lockdown. However, they came the same day as the United Kingdom said people should be "allowed to protest peacefully", while Germany and Australian announced they were looking into attacks on the media at USA demonstrations.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell urged United States authorities to rein in the "excessive use of force", and said the 27-nation bloc supports the right to peaceful protest.

"This is an abuse of power and this has to be denounced, has to be combatted, in the States and everywhere", Borrell said. While he said police violence seems worse in the USA, he added, "all blacks live this to a degree".

Police had banned the protest because of coronavirus-related restrictions that forbid any gathering of more than 10 people.

But demonstrators showed up anyway.

Last week, a 14-year-old was badly injured in one eye during a police operation in Bondy, one of Paris's northern suburbs, sparking protests.

The Paris police force "is not violent, nor racist: it acts within the framework of the right to liberty for all", he insisted in an email to the city's 27,500 law enforcers. A protest was also planned in The Hague, Netherlands.

The demonstrations were held in honour of Traore, who died shortly after his arrest in 2016, and in solidarity with Americans demonstrating against Floyd's death.

The Traore case sparked has always been a rallying cause against police brutality in France, which young, black men say is often targeted at them.

The lawyer for two of the three police officers involved in the French man's arrest, Rodolphe Bosselut, said the Floyd and Traore cases "have strictly nothing to do with each other" because the circumstances are different.

In a video message posted on social media, Traore's sister, Assa Traore, said her brother and Floyd "had the same words, their last words: I can't breathe", she said.

Around 3,000 people, mainly Australians but also some from the US and elsewhere, marched for around half a mile under police escort. The mostly Australian crowd at the authorized demonstration also included protesters from the USA and elsewhere.

"As a black woman, I'm exhausted of seeing my brothers go down".

"They take their own country's national security very seriously, but for the security of our country, especially the situation in Hong Kong, they are looking at it through tinted glasses", she said.

"So our embassy in the United States will approach the relevant authorities, and Channel Seven will also provide us with their views on how they wish to deal with it". "There's other injustices occurring every day. There is systemic discrimination in Canada".

In Sydney, a mostly Australian crowd, but also including protesters from the USA and elsewhere, marched for around a half-mile under police escort in the authorized, two-hour long demonstration.

The drama unfolding in the US drew increasing diplomatic concern.

The EU's top diplomat has described the death of George Floyd as an "abuse of power", adding his voice to growing worldwide unease around the USA killing as well as Washington's subsequent violent crackdown against protesters. "We support the right to peaceful protest and also we condemn violence and racism of any kind and, for sure, we call for a de-escalation of tensions", said Borrell, who was previously Spain's foreign minister.

Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said his government would question U.S. authorities on that specific case "to find out the exact circumstances".

"Always was, always will be Aboriginal land", protesters chanted on Tuesday. The statement came after a correspondent for the country's public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, said he was shot at live on air while reporting in Minneapolis, the city in which Floyd was killed.

"It can not be right that, in the 21st century, the United States, this great bastion of democracy, continues to grapple with the problem of systemic racism", Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement, adding that black people the world over are shocked and distraught.

Related:

Comments


Other news