Thousands in Paris protest death of black man in police custody

Protesters holding placards attend a banned demonstration in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman, who died in a 2016 police operation, Paris, France, June 2, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Thousands in Paris protest death of black man in police custody

  • Paris police chief Didier Lallement had refused permission for the rally to go ahead outside a Paris court for protesters calling for justice for Adama Traore
  • Many of the protesters on Tuesday drew inspiration from the protest movement in the United States over the police killing last week of George Floyd

PARIS: Thousands of people on Tuesday defied a ban to protest in Paris over the death of a young black man in French police custody in 2016, using slogans that echoed the protest movement raging in the US.
Paris police chief Didier Lallement had refused permission for the rally to go ahead outside a Paris court for protesters calling for justice for Adama Traore, whose death has long been a subject of controversy in France.
Many of the protesters on Tuesday drew inspiration from the protest movement in the United States over the police killing last week of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, brandishing viral slogans in English such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe.”
“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 Assa Traore told the protest.
“What is happening in the United States is an echo of what is happening in France,” she added.
The Traore case has long been a rallying cause against police brutality in France, which young, black men say is often targeted at them.
Following a dispute over an identity check, Traore, 24, was apprehended in a house where he hid after leading police on a 15-minute chase in 2016.
He lost consciousness in their vehicle and died at a nearby police station. He was still handcuffed when paramedics arrived.
One of the three arresting officers told investigators that Traore had been pinned down with their combined bodyweight after his arrest.
Last Friday, French medical experts exonerated the three police officers, dismissing a medical report commissioned by the young man’s family that said he had died of asphyxiation.
It was the third official report to clear the officers.
Adding to the controversy, a new probe commissioned by the Traore family said Tuesday that his death was caused by the arrest technique used by the officers, a source said.
Lallement, meanwhile, wrote a letter to police officers defending their conduct, sympathizing with the “pain” officers 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 insisted in an email to the city’s 27,500 law enforcers.
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 brutality against members of the public at 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 January 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.
Lallement insisted Tuesday that any officer found to have acted wrongly would be appropriately punished.
“But I will not accept that individual actions throw into question the republican bulwark that we are against delinquency and those who dream of chaos and anarchy,” he wrote.


Russia battles wildfires amid record warm weather

Updated 6 min 28 sec ago

Russia battles wildfires amid record warm weather

  • Russia’s Aerial Forest Protection Service said it was trying to suppress 136 fires over 43,000 hectares as of Saturday
  • The region announced a state of emergency on July 2 due to the wildfires

MOSCOW: Wildfires raging in Siberia in record summer temperatures have decreased considerably over the past week, Russia’s forest service said Saturday, as it battles blazes by cloud seeding and explosives.
Freakishly warm weather across large swathes of Siberia since January, combined with low soil moisture, have contributed to a resurgence of wildfires that devastated the region last summer, the European Union’s climate monitoring network said this week.
Both the number and intensity of fires in Siberia and parts of Alaska have increased since mid-June, resulting in the highest carbon emissions for the month — 59 million tons of CO2 — since records began in 2003, it said.
Russia’s Aerial Forest Protection Service said it was trying to suppress 136 fires over 43,000 hectares (430 square kilometers) as of Saturday.
Firefighters are using explosives to contain the fires and using cloud seeding with silver iodide to encourage rain, it said.
However most of the fires have been deemed too remote and expensive to handle, with over 333,000 hectares currently ablaze in areas where all firefighting efforts have stopped, it said.
This is considerably smaller than a week ago, when the service reported fires over a total of two million hectares.
From mid-June, regions in Russia’s far north, including beyond the Arctic circle, have registered unprecedented heat records.
Russia’s weather service expert Roman Vilfand had said anti-cyclones — which create abnormally clear skies with no clouds or rain — had increased in the northern hemisphere.
In the Arctic, where the sun doesn’t set in the summer, this means that sunlight is heating the Earth’s surface around the clock, increasing risk of fires, he said.
Fresh satellite images showed Saturday that the largest fires are still in Russia’s vast Yakutia region, which is sparsely populated and borders the Arctic Ocean.
The region announced a state of emergency on July 2 due to the wildfires, which the governor of Yakutia said were caused by “dry thunderstorms.”
Greenpeace Russia’s forest program, which analyzes satellite data, said Saturday that a total of 9.26 million hectares — greater than the size of Portugal — have been impacted by wildfires since the beginning of 2020.
The organization blames Russia’s wildfire crisis on lack of funding of the forest service which now cannot ensure adequate fire prevention.