French police have banned a demonstration planned to take place in front of the U.S. Embassy in Paris on Saturday as protests mount around the world over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Paris police department said on Friday it had decided to ban the demonstrations because of the risks of social disorder and health dangers from large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trouble had broken out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday. Thousands had turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation which some have likened to Floyd’s death.
Unrest has broken out across the United States after the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died after a white policeman pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.
Churning U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd have revived anger in France over police violence, systemic racism and the complicated case of Adama Traore, a black Frenchman who died in police custody in July 2016.
For Traore’s family, the Floyd protests have also revived their hopes for change. “During the coronavirus, people had a pause in their lives. They filmed scenes of police violence and they realized they were living in a country where there is violence every day against people of color,” his sister, Assa Traore, said.
Over 20,000 people flouted a police ban and protested vociferously Tuesday in Paris to call for justice for both Traore and Floyd, and similar protests are planned around France this weekend.
“As long as police aren’t convicted, we will keep coming out in the streets,” Traore’s sister told The Associated Press.
Traore’s family believe three police officers piled on top of him and pinned him to the ground on his stomach after his arrest, and he asphyxiated. Lawyers for the officers deny police were at fault, and it remains unclear exactly at what moment, or where, he died. Unlike with Floyd, there is no video or recording, which has made judging the case harder. Four years later, no one has been charged.
French researchers have documented how police disproportionately target minorities for ID checks, and Traore’s supporters are not the only ones to accuse police of overstepping their authority.
Three days after Floyd died, another black man writhed on the tarmac of a Paris street as a white police officer pressed a knee to his neck during an arrest, this time captured on video.
Outrage is growing. But while in Paris some demonstrators clashed with police, Traore’s sister focused on the peaceful majority. She encouraged those who “have the luck not to be victims of this violence” to denounce it. “Don’t remain spectators.”
After four years of back-and-forth autopsies and grassroots activism for her brother’s cause, she described the pain and power of seeing video of police kneeling on Floyd. He died after an officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.—AP