Thousands stage rally in French capital against police brutality

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Thousands of people have gathered in Paris to denounce police brutality and discrimination.

Shouts rose from the largely black crowd as a group of white extreme-right activists climbed a building and unfurled a huge banner denouncing “anti-white racism”.

Police did not arrest the counter-demonstrators, but residents in the building tore part of the banner down.

Protests in France
The march was organised by supporters of Adama Traore (AP)

Police surrounded the intended march route, bracing for potential violence after scattered clashes at some previous demonstrations around France which were also inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd’s death in the US.

The Paris protest was among several in France and other countries this weekend for the same cause.

The march in the French capital was led by supporters of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old French black man who died in 2016.

Mr Traore did not have his identity card on him and reportedly ran as the police approached.

A huge portrait showed half of Mr Traore’s face, half of Mr Floyd’s.

Clashes at French protests
Residents of a building cut up a banner which was lowered from the roof of a building by far-right protesters (AP)

She said her brother was also handcuffed and held down by police before he died, much like Mr Floyd had been last month in Minneapolis.

A final report released last month cleared three French officers of wrongdoing, triggering renewed protests over Mr Traore’s death.

This week, the French government banned chokeholds.

Along the march route, the Paris police chief ordered merchants and city officials to clear pavements of anything that could be set on fire or used by troublemakers against police.

Gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned in France because of virus containment measures.

Protests were also held in Marseille, Lyon and other French cities.

France protests
The march is one of the biggest in the world to be inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the US (AP)

Researchers have documented racial profiling by French police, and investigations were opened recently into racist comments in private Facebook and WhatsApp groups for police officers.

The French interior minister Christophe Castaner promised this week to stamp out racism and announced a ban on police chokeholds during arrests.

Paris protests
Protesters in Paris (AP)

After meeting union representatives, Mr Castaner said Friday night that police will start experimenting with expanded use of stun-guns in the future, despite concerns about their safety.

Assa Traore said that when she saw images of the police protesting: “I wasn’t even angry. I was ashamed of the French police.

“In the whole world, the only country where police officers demonstrate to keep their permission to kill is France.”

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