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It's been nearly four years since Adama Traoré, a black Frenchman, died in police custody. On Tuesday, 20,000 people, inspired by protests sweeping the U.S., took to the streets of Paris to demand justice over his death, and an end to police brutality against people of color.
Protesters took a knee and raised their fists, and many held up signs in English reading "I can't breathe" and "black lives matter.” According to French media reports, clashes broke out at about 9pm local time, when some protesters threw stones, burned an American flag, and set up burning barricades. Police responded with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Traoré, a 24-year-old of Malian descent, died in police custody after being chased by officers in Beaumont-sur-Oise, a town north of Paris. His death has been a flashpoint for race relations in France. Three official reports have cleared the three arresting officers, one of whom had told investigators that they pinned the man down using their body weight, of blame.
But an investigation commissioned by the family and released Tuesday found his death was caused by the officers’ arrest technique.
Footage on social media showed streets blocked by burning barricades constructed with scooters and motorbikes, and broken windows of surrounding businesses.
Speaking to protesters Tuesday, Traoré’s sister Assa Traoré drew parallels between the situation faced by minorities in the U.S. and France.
“When we fight for George Floyd, we fight for Adama Traore,” she said.
“What is happening in the United States is an echo of what is happening in France.”
French government officials condemned the unrest at the protest, which had been banned by the local police prefecture under coronavirus restrictions limiting public gatherings to 10 people.
“Nothing justifies the behavior that took place in Paris this evening, when protests on public streets are banned to protect everyone's health,”of tweeted Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. “Violence has no place in a democracy."
Protests against police brutality towards minorities also spread to other countries Tuesday, with large protests inspired by the U.S. movement held in Sydney, Australia; The Hague in the Netherlands; and Tel Aviv, Israel.
Cover: Protesters kneel and react by a burning barricade during a demonstration Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Paris. Paris riot officers fired tear gas as scattered protesters threw projectiles and set fires at an unauthorized demonstration against police violence and racial injustice. Several thousand people rallied peacefully for two hours around the main Paris courthouse in homage to George Floyd and to Adama Traore, a French black man who died in police custody. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)