Protesters against police violence have set a car on fire during a rally in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, which followed a police officer’s assault on a 22-year-old man last week, leading to a spike in anti-police demonstrations across Paris.
Today marks a week of violent protests in Paris suburbs after the alleged abuse of a young man by police officers. The rallies have followed the charging of a police officer who allegedly used his baton to rape a 22-year-old man. Three other officers are accused of assault. The incident is said to have happened during a stop and search operation.
The prosecutor’s office said the police had stopped a group of about a dozen people after hearing calls of drug dealing sites in the area. During the operation the officers “attempted to arrest a 22-year-old man”, and when he resisted, used tear gas and “one of them used an expandable baton”, it added. But the man, known only as Theo, suffered such serious injuries to his rectum that he needed major emergency surgery, and remains in hospital.
Cited by Euronews, Abdallah Benjana who is the former deputy mayor of Aulnay-sous-Bois, a diverse Parisian suburb, asked what was happening? “Isn’t there enough tension to spark trouble? Unemployment, insecurity, high rents… no idea of a future; you do this to a young man; all of this can only explode.” The four officers have denied the charges but locals say they’ve had enough. It is unacceptable what they (policemen) have done. And every day it is like that, whenever the police come they carry out abusive checks. It is always like that.”
French police have in the past been accused of using excessive force in poorer neighbourhoods. The death in police custody last summer of a young black man, Adama Traoré, in Beaumont-sur-Oise outside Paris, and the slow reaction of authorities sparked accusations of police violence and a state cover-up. An investigation is ongoing.
Anti-police violence is not new in France, with similar incidents taking place periodically, most rececntly in May of 2016, when protesters in Paris attacked a police car with two officers inside with iron bars and set it alight in a dramatic unleashing of new anti-police violence, as officers across France took to the streets to denounce violence they say has been repeatedly directed at them.
"Everybody hates the police!" they chanted at Paris' Place de la Republique, where several hundred police officers gathered on their lunch break to condemn "anti-cop hate." The protesters were dispersed with pepper spray.
The anti-police tensions show no signs of abating as the live feed from the latest day of anti-police protests below demonstrates.