| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Paris protest over police violence banned in aftermath of riots

On Saturday, Paris police prohibited a protest against police violence, a week after France was rocked by riots caused by the death of a teenager in a Paris neighborhood.

The Paris police department said on its website that the scheduled rally on Place de la Republique had been canceled due to public order threats, citing a “context of tensions.”

Officials and politicians in France, including President Emmanuel Macron, have rejected systemic racism in the country’s law enforcement organizations.

The police have come under scrutiny after the June 27 fatal shooting by a police officer of Nahel M at a traffic stop. The 17-year-old was driving a sports car without a licence.

Saturday’s protest was called by the family of Adama Traore, a Black Frenchman who died in police custody in circumstances similar to the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

The demonstration against alleged police violence and racial discrimination was initially planned as a march in Beaumont-sur-Oise, another Paris suburb, where Traore died in 2016.

But this had already been banned by local authorities, citing an elevated risk to public order and security.

The ban was upheld by a court on Friday, prompting the call for a gathering in central Paris instead. Left-wing leaders, including the LFI parliamentary group chief Mathilde Panot, had said they would join the gathering.

It was not immediately clear whether the organisers would challenge the new ban by the Paris authorities.

Further demonstrations over Nahel’s killing are planned in several major French cities over the weekend, including in Marseille and Strasbourg.

A policeman who prosecutors said acknowledged firing a lethal shot at Nahel is under formal investigation for voluntary homicide, equivalent to being charged under Anglo-Saxon law.

His lawyer has said the officer had aimed at the driver’s leg but was bumped when the car drove off, causing him to shoot towards his chest, and had not intended to kill the teenager.

Separately, the French foreign ministry on Saturday denied a UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) allegation of racial discrimination and excessive use of force by French law enforcement officials.

The UN body had said on Friday that France should make it a priority to address “the structural and systemic causes of racial discrimination, including in law enforcement”.

“Any accusation of systemic racism or discrimination by law enforcement in France is unfounded”, the foreign ministry said, echoing similar statements it has made previously.

  • Reuters