Over 19,000 people demonstrated in Paris on Tuesday evening, calling for justice over the death of black Frenchman, Adama Traore, in police custody in 2016, according to a police source quoted by BFM television.
The demonstrators started gathering in the late afternoon in front of the Paris Court near the ring road in the north of the capital, brandishing slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe”, which echoed protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American, who died in police custody last week, in the United States.
The rally turned violent hours later, as some demonstrators set fires and put up barricades, with the traffic of the section of the ring road blocked.
Traore lost consciousness in a police vehicle and died at a police station in July 2016 after he was arrested for a dispute over an identity check, according to French media, with many reports pointing out that the man had no previous criminal record.
State investigators exonerated three police officers from an accusation of heavy-handedness in the arrest of Traore, saying that the 24-year old black died of a heart attack due to pre-existing medical condition.
His family said he died from asphyxiation from police tactics.
On Tuesday morning, Paris Police announced that the demonstration was not authorised, as public gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited due to the coronavirus epidemic.