More than 1,000 protesters defied the ban and gathered in the centre of Paris for a mourning event, with dozens of marches held across France to protest racial profiling and police brutality.
The riots that shook the country a week before Saturday’s rallies were prompted by the death of a teenager in a suburb of the French capital. According to Al Jazeera, the demonstrations were called by the family of Adama Traoré, a black French man. , who died in police custody in circumstances similar to the 2016 shooting death of George Floyd in the United States. Traoré’s older sister Asa Traoré was to lead a memorial march outside Paris.
However, a police spokesman said that the protests were restricted because of risks to public order, citing “the context of tension” following recent unrest on French streets. Traoré’s sister condemned the decision in a video posted on Twitter. In the video, she can be heard saying, “The government has decided to add fuel to the fire (and) will not honor the death of my younger brother.”
He said that instead of the planned event, he should attend a rally in the Place de la République in central Paris to “tell the whole world that our dead have a right to live, even in death.” ”
He said, “They allow neo-Nazis to march but they don’t allow us to march. France cannot teach us morals. Its police are racist and violent.”
According to Al Jazeera, this weekend, more than 30 such protests against police brutality are planned across France, including in the cities of Lille, Marseille, Nantes and Strasbourg. Both the French government and President Emmanuel Macron have disputed that institutional racism exists in the country’s law enforcement forces.
Following the fatal shooting of Nahel M during a traffic stop by a police officer on June 27, French police have come under criticism. The teenager, of Moroccan and Algerian origin, was driving a sports car without a licence.
“Since the shootings, civil rights organizations have urged police to address claims of racial profiling as well as concerns about recruitment and training. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) – a body consisting of 18 Independent experts – including one on Friday – urged France to define and pass a law banning racial profiling and questioned the “excessive use of force by law enforcement”, according to Al Jazeera.
The CERT said it was “particularly concerned by the excessive use of force in the application of the law against members of minority groups, particularly those of African and Arab origin, as well as the persistent practice of racial profiling by the police.”
According to official figures, more than 3,700 people, including at least 1,160 minors, have been taken into police custody in connection with protests since Nahel’s death. On Saturday, the French foreign ministry challenged the panel’s “excessive” and “unfounded” comments.
Mass migration is being blamed for the most intense and widespread riots in France since 2005, and far-right groups are calling for an immigration ban. According to advocacy groups, Saturday’s “citizens’ march” will provide people with a chance to express their “sorrow and anger” at discriminatory police practices, particularly in working-class areas, Al Jazeera reports.