Using slogans in English such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe,” protesters echoed the protest movement in the United States (U.S.) over the police killing last week of unarmed black man, George Floyd.
“Today we are not just talking about the fight of the Traore family. It is the fight for everyone. When we fight for George Floyd, we fight for Adama Traore,” elder sister and symbol of the fight against police violence, Assa Traore, told the protest.
“What is happening in the United States is an echo of what is happening in France,” she added.
Paris police Chief Didier Lallement had refused permission for the rally to go ahead. He sent an email to the city’s 27,500 law enforcers to defend their conduct, and sympathize with the “pain” they must feel “faced with accusations of violence and racism, repeated endlessly by social networks and certain activist groups.”
The Paris police force “is not violent, nor racist: it acts within the framework of the right to liberty for all,” he said.
Star French actress Camelia Jordana, who is of Algerian origin, was rebuked last month by the French interior minister for saying people “get massacred” by the police in the Paris suburbs due to the color of their skin.
Several French officers have also been investigated for violence against members of the long-running “yellow vest” anti-government rallies, and more recent anti-pension reform strikes. Scores of protesters were maimed by rubber bullets or stun grenades, some losing an eye or a hand.
On Jan. 3 this year, a 42-year-old man suffocated to death after being pinned face down to the ground during an arrest in Paris. Last week, a 14-year-old was badly injured in one eye during a police operation in Bondy, one of Paris’s northern suburbs, sparking protests.