Protesters against police violence have set a cars on fire during a rally in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, which followed a police officer’s assault on a 22-year-old man.
The young men implicated in the terrorist attacks in France and Belgium during the last three years have come from or have links to the “banlieue.” The word, literally translated, means “suburb,” but it has come to be associated with the depressed, mostly refugee and immigrant neighborhoods on the outskirts of the French capital where unemployment is high and opportunity scarce.
An RTL van set on fire by the protesters could be seen burning in the live footage.
Dozens of young people have occupied an empty lot in Bobigny in the prefecture of Seine-Saint-Denis department. Some of the protesters have been carrying banners saying “Justice for Theo,” the name of the young man who was sexually assaulted by a police officer with a truncheon.
“We decided to organize this gathering. The announcement has been running on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat… it made some noise, it shows how much people can’t stand this situation anymore,” one of the organizers said, according to France Bleu Paris.
During the protest, demonstrators threw projectiles at police officers and set fire to cars and trash cans.
“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,” a prefecture statement said, according to Reuters.
A video submitted by an RT France’s reporter shows brutally smashed store windows and groceries thrown out of counters and fridges lying all over the store floor. Le Monde also reported of other cases of vandalism on the streets of the suburban town.
The 22 year-old man, identified only as Theo, was attacked with a baton during what police later said was an ID check in Aulnay-sous-Bois (another Paris suburb), on February 2.