Hundreds defy Paris protest ban a week after riots


Hundreds of protesters defied a ban on Saturday to march in central Paris against police violence, a week after riots sparked by the killing of a teenager in a Parisian suburb.

Police dispersed the crowd from Paris’s huge Place de la Republique, sending several hundred people towards the wide Boulevard Magenta, where they were seen marching peacefully.

The Paris police department said in a decision published on its website that it had banned the planned demonstration, citing a “context of tensions”.

“We still enjoy freedom of expression in France, but freedom of assembly, in particular, is under threat”, said Felix Bouvarel, a health worker who came to the gathering in spite of the ban which he called “shocking.”

Authorities also banned a demonstration in the northern city of Lille on Saturday, while a march in Marseille took place with a changed trajectory, ordered out of the city centre.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said this week that more than 3,000 people, mostly teenagers, had been arrested in six nights of riots that ended a week ago. Some 2,500 buildings were damaged.

The riots were triggered by the June 27 fatal shooting by a police officer of 17-year-old Nahel M at a traffic stop. A police officer is under investigation for voluntary homicide; his lawyer says he did not intend to kill the teen.

Saturday’s demonstration was called by the family of Adama Traore, a Black Frenchman whose death in police custody in 2016 has been marked by annual protests since. Organisers had sought to move it central Paris after it was banned in Beaumont-sur-Oise, the Paris suburb where Traore died.

French authorities and politicians including President Emmanuel Macron have denied institutional racism within the country’s law enforcement agencies.

The bodies, out of which five could not be identified, were also shifted to the same hospital.

Rescue officials work at the site of a gas cylinder explosion in the Bhalwal tehsil of Punjab’s Sargodha district, which killed 7 and injured 14 on Saturday. – Photo provided by author

The statement said that Rescue 1122 had received a call alerting about the incident at 8:35am, and their response time to it was in seven minutes, with nine ambulances, three fire-fighting vehicles and a rescue vehicle dispatched to the site.

It added that the call had informed Resue 1122 about a fire erupting in a Hiace vehicle of Gara Brothers’ Transport due to gas leakage from its Liquified Petroleum Gas cylinder.

The injured who were taken to the hospital include two children – aged four and 12 – as well as two 50-year-olds.

Last month, at least five, including three children, were killed and seven others were injured in three separate gas cylinder explosions across the country.

The French foreign ministry denied on Saturday that the country’s legal system is racist, a day after the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called for France to address “the structural and systemic causes of racial discrimination, including in law enforcement”.

“Any accusation of systemic racism or discrimination by law enforcement in France is unfounded”, the foreign ministry said.__Daily Times