A French Muslim immigrant was killed when his motorcycle struck the opening door of an unmarked Paris police car stopped during a police check, while another immigrant died of a heart attack in police custody after being arrested and dragged away for violating government coronavirus decrees.
This was enough to set off riots in several French towns over the last two nights, as there are indications of anger at cops “over-policing” coronavirus regulations.
Police fought running battles overnight in Paris’s low-income northern suburbs with residents alleging heavy-handedness by officers enforcing France’s strict coronavirus lockdown.
Residents burned trash and cars and shot fireworks at police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas in the suburbs of Villeneuve-la-Garenne and Aulnay-sous-Bois, witnesses and police said on Monday (April 20).
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) April 20, 2020
French police have been accused of “racism” against Muslim immigrants. And the rioting spread to other towns as well.
Police on Monday launched tear gas and used batons against residents in Villeneuve-la-Garenne as fireworks exploded in the street, the Daily Mail reported.
The mayhem also spread to nearby Aulnay-sous-Bois, where officers said they were “ambushed” by residents in a district made up mostly of immigrants who claim they are regularly subjected to harsh police treatment.
Police said they were targeted by people using fireworks as projectiles and arrested four residents.
Rights group SOS Racisme has issued a statement calling on authorities to shed full light on the incident with the biker, and urging police restraint “in this time of confinement and tensions.”
A police station in Strasburg was set on fire by protesters who say they are “sympathetic” to the Paris rioters. But the question is, are these people rioting against the police for their heavy-handed enforcement of the lockdown or is this just more of the tension between Muslims and French police?
It may be a combination of both. Three police officers are being charged in the death of the man in custody for violating the lockdown regulations.
Last week prosecutors in Béziers, in the south of France, announced that officers were facing criminal charges after a father-of-three died while under arrest for breaching the Coronavirus lockdown.
Three officers were videoed dragging Mohamed Gabsi, 33, along the ground during a curfew.
They are suspected of “intentional violence by a public official leading to manslaughter” and “non assistance of a person in danger”.
The offences come with a potential combined prison sentence of 15 years plus, said local prosecutors.
A human rights group is saying that Gabsi’s death is a “scandal.”
A spokesman for France’s Human Rights League described the death of Mr Gabsi, who was from an Arab background, as a “scandal that shows how the poor are being killed” by the lockdown.
The poor are dying from the coronavirus, not from the lockdown. But that sort of sophistry resonates with the poor in France who live packed together in high-rise complexes known as banlieues. The buildings are breeding grounds for the virus and its not surprising that France’s death toll is over 19,000.
President Emanuel Macron will likely ease the lockdown in the coming weeks. But the smoldering resentment of Muslims who believe they are being oppressed by the French police will remain.
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