Anti-police protests in Paris descended into violence last night as a wave of demonstrations gripped the country, following accusations a police officer anally raped a young black man with a baton.
Protesters clashed with riot police after they lit piles of rubbish and bins on fire in the streets of the 18th arrondissement in the north of the French capital. The riot police threw tear gas canisters at the protesters, which were in turn thrown back at them.
A shop was also looted and windows were smashed.
Hundreds of people, some wearing hoods to hide their identity, travelled to the Barbes Metro station to protest against police brutality.
The protests, which have been contained to the suburbs in recent weeks, erupted in Paris after a 22-year-old man known as Theo, was allegedly raped with a truncheon during a routine police check earlier this month.
A policeman has been placed under formal investigation for the alleged rape and three others are under investigation for violent conduct during Theo’s arrest in Aulnay-sous-Bois.
Theo, a youth worker, whose surname has been withheld, remains in hospital with injuries to his anus and head.
Demonstrations have taken place across France since the alleged incident happened on 2 February and a total of 200 people have been arrested so far.
Some of the signs held during the protest in Paris read “Justice for Theo”, “Faced with police impunity let’s be uncontrollable” and “Police, rapists, assassins”.
Police estimated around 400 people took to the streets in protest on Wednesday night.
The incident involving Theo has drawn attention again to alleged police brutality in the French suburbs, where police officers are accused of abusing their position of authority, particularly against young black people.
The tensions have brought back memories of the violence that erupted in north Paris and across France in 2005, when 6,000 people were arrested during weeks of riots.
The protests began after two teenage boys climbed a fence in an electricity substation and were electrocuted when trying to escape from police. The French authorities were forced to declare a state of emergency and by the time tensions were appeased, 10,000 cars had been burnt and 300 buildings destroyed or vandalised.
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