In the wake of the shock wave caused by George Floyd’s death in the US, protests against police violence were held Saturday in several French cities despite health restrictions and prefecture bans.
Several demonstrations took place despite the bans. The shock wave caused by George Floyd’s death in the United States continued to spread on Saturday, June 6 in France where demonstrations against police violence were held in several cities despite health restrictions and bans.
Close monitoring by the authorities, the actions in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Lille and even Rennes, aimed to pay tribute to this African-American who died at the hands of the police on May 25, but also to condemn the “racism” and “impunity” that would rule within the police in France.
Thousands of people, Place de la Concorde
In the capital, a few thousand people have defied the prefectural ban on gathering at Place de la Concorde near the US Embassy and demanding “justice for all” by holding up “Black Lives Matter” signs, the movement’s unifying cry to the United States.
“I think it is outrageous that all these injustices remain unpunished and that the state does nothing,” says Dior, a Senegalese-Ivorian student who came to participate in this rally, overseen by police who are deployed in mass.
Chanting “no justice, no peace”, other protesters began flocking around 5pm on Champ-de-Mars, near the Eiffel Tower, to participate in a measure that is also banned because of the coronavirus pandemic.
PARIS – Collection of hundreds of people in tribute to George Floyd at Place de la Concorde. #BlackLivesMattter
Very important unit for the police to prevent access to the US embassy. pic.twitter.com/xipnvfTq4q
– Timbaland (@ Timbala14419858) June 6, 2020
“France drowns in its racism”
In Bordeaux, at least 2,500 people marched in peace behind banners condemning “racist police” and “police impunity” before observing, kneeling and, for some with their fists raised, a long minute of silence.
“We couldn’t take part in the protests in the United States, so we’re doing this,” said Caroline Fache, a French-American whose family is preparing to return to the United States. “I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a society where not all human life is created equal.”
In Lyon, several thousand people gathered in the center. “France drowns in its racism. We condemn the police violence and the denial of silence at the institutions,” assures Arkya Sedime, a member of the Afro-descendants collective.
Mobilization also in Rennes, where 700 to more than a thousand people demonstrated. The participants formed a body around Awa Gueye, sister of Babacar Gueye, shot to death during a police operation in Rennes 2015, at the age of 27.
“34 years ago I was a student and I already showed that I condemn Malik Oussekine’s death. Today, nothing has changed,” says Nathalie Aubré-Connan, who produced her sign “Don’t touch my friend”.
More modest collections were also held in Metz, Nancy or Béziers, while measures had already taken place the day before in Strasbourg and Clermont-Ferrand.
In Metz, incidents broke out on Saturday at the end of the demonstration and the prosecutor was slightly injured. “By shaking the court’s front door, protesters managed to force the small door for pedestrians,” Metz’s prosecutor, Christian Mercuri, told AFP. “I came to see the injury and I got a stone on the nose,” said the magistrate from the hospital where he would be taken care of, adding that the protesters had quickly left the court.
According to the Moselle prefecture, 800 people went in the early afternoon for this demonstration, which was first held in peace.
Christophe Castaner promises to be “uncompromising”
Subject of recurring polemics in recent years, allegations of police violence in combination with racism had already found a new echo on Tuesday night in Paris.
In response to the call from the family to Adama Traoré, who died in 2016 following his arrest in Val-d’Oise, at least 20,000 people had gathered in front of the Paris Tribunal, Porte de Clichy, and sealed an unprecedented mobilization that surprised the authorities.
Put under pressure, the government opposed the existence of any “structural racism” within the police force, but ended up admitting that there was a “certain concern” that needed to be heard.
In the front line, the Interior Ministry, Christophe Castaner, has promised to be “uncompromising” in the face of any concrete signs of racism or unjust violence among the police.
On Friday, he also went to court after the disclosure, by the Streetpress news site, of the presence of a private group on Facebook reserved for police and exchanging racist and hate messages. Parliament’s Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation.
[🚨 INFO STREETPRESS] – In a private FB group, reserved for FDO and having more than 8,000 members, the police exchange hundreds of racist and sexist messages
– StreetPress (@streetpress) June 4, 2020
The right is afraid of a deterioration of the “crack” in French society
To the right, this electric climate raises fears of a deterioration of the “crack” in French society and the rise of an “anti-cop hatred,” according to the president of the Les Républicains au National Assembly group, Damien Abad.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of Insoumis, pointed to the CEO. “The root of all this is the political power that lies in the hands of police unions that do what they want,” he said in Marseille.
Weakening of “massive silence” by the authorities, the SOS Racism Association asked the government “to finally open the place for the fight against racism within the police.”