French protesters defy bans to rally against police violence
AROUND 2,000 PEOPLE defied a ban to join a memorial rally in central Paris today for a black man who died in police custody, while marches took place throughout France to denounce police brutality.
Seven years after the death of Adama Traore, his sister had planned to lead an annual commemorative march north of Paris in Persan and Beaumont-sur-Oise.
But fearful of reigniting recent unrest sparked by the police killing of 17-year-old Nahel M. at a traffic stop near Paris, a court ruled the chance of public disturbance was too high to allow the march to proceed.
In a video posted on Twitter, Assa Traore, Adama’s older sister, denounced the decision.
“The government has decided to add fuel to the fire” and “not to respect the death of my little brother”, she said.
She instead attended a rally in central Paris’s Place de la Republique to tell “the whole world that our dead have the right to exist, even in death”.
“We are marching for the youth to denounce police violence. They want to hide our deaths,” she said at the rally, also attended by several lawmakers.
“They authorise marches by neo-Nazis but they don’t allow us to march. France cannot give us moral lessons. Its police is racist and violent,” she said.
The Paris rally had also been banned on the grounds that it could disrupt public order and a legal case has been opened against Assa Traore for organising the event, police said.
“Public liberties are losing ground little by little,” said Sandrine Rousseau, a lawmaker from the EELV Green party.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, the outspoken head of the radical leftist France Unbowed party, castigated the government on Twitter.
“From prohibition to repression… the leader is taking France to a regime we have already seen. Danger. Danger,” he tweeted, referring to the World War II regime of Vichy leader Philippe Petain who collaborated with the Nazis.
Many at the rally shouted “Justice for Nahel” before calmly dispersing later in the afternoon.
However, one of Assa Traore’s brothers was arrested on suspicion of violence against a person holding public authority, police said, without giving details.