A peaceful rally in a Paris suburb has descended into violence amid anger over the case of a black youth worker who was allegedly raped with a police baton.Police on Saturday fired tear gas at protesters who threw projectiles at officers and set cars and rubbish bins alight.
More than 2,000 people gathered peacefully in the northern suburb of Bobigny outside the courthouse calling for justice for the 22-year-old victim, who has been identified only as Theo.
Later, however, some in the crowd hurled crude projectiles at riot police.
Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from Bobigny, said: “The whole area where the demonstration started is now soaking in tear gas.”
He said the protesters were taking out their anger and frustration “over what they see as a burning sense of injustice” out on the streets.
A police statement said: “Several vehicles, including a media truck, were set on fire and police officers had to intervene to rescue a young child trapped in a burning vehicle.”
On February 20, the Bobigny court will decide whether the accused policemen – who all deny the accusations against them – will face trial.
“Instead of being a peaceful demonstration trying to get justice outside the courthouse where we will hear what will happen to those police officers,” our correspondent said, “this has turned into a series of running fights, in what I’m hearing will continue into the night.”
Saturday’s riots came more than a week after one of the accused policeman was placed under formal investigation for suspected rape and three others for unnecessary violence during Theo’s arrest in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a northern suburb of Paris.