A fresh round of protests started in France on Saturday to denounce police brutality and racism. Several thousand people converged to the Republic Square in central Paris, demanding “Justice for Adama Traore”, a 24-year-old black young man who died in police custody four years ago.
The case, according to protesters, happened in circumstances similar to the death of George Floyd in the United States last month.
Protesters carried posters reading “Stop police brutality” “No justice, No peace” and “Remaining silent is to be an accomplice.”
Issues of police brutality, racism under the spotlight after George Floyd’s death:
The organisers asked the participants to wear protective face masks. However, due to the big turnout, the one-meter social distancing could hardly be maintained.
In Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Montpellier and Nantes, people took to the streets to join Traore’s family support group to condemn police brutality.
France’s state investigators dismissed the charge of police brutality in the Traore case, saying that the boy died of heart failure due to pre-existing medical conditions.
While Floyd’s death triggered anti-racism protests around the world, the Traore case was brought to light in France after a new probe commissioned by Traore’s family said the young man died of asphyxiation due to the technique police officers used during the arrest.
Last Saturday, the first round of national rallies had the participation of 23,300 people, including 5,500 in Paris, according to the interior ministry.
Early this week, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner vowed “zero tolerance” to police racism, stressing that “each suspicion must lead to an investigation and each mistake to a sanction.”
He announced that the chokehold arrest would be abandoned and no longer be taught in police and gendarmerie schools. He also ordered to reinforce the use of body cameras.
Finding the racism allegations unjustified, police unions held their own protests across French cities on Friday. Thousands of policemen walked out from police stations to demand an end to police “stigmatization.”
US Ambassador Lana Marks discusses the impact of Floyd’s death: