French People Rally to Support Black Lives Matter Protests, Demand Justice for Adama Traoré

Elsa Keslassy

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More than 20,000 people took the streets of Paris, France, to support Black Lives Matter protests and demand justice for Adama Traoré, a young black man who, like George Floyd, was killed due to suspected police brutality in July 2016.

Shouting “no justice, no peace,” the demonstrators gathered in front of the French capital’s court house and called for the end of racism and impunity. The protest had not been authorized by the prefect of Paris due to the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people during the coronavirus crisis. Although it started peacefully, several incidents and clashes with police were later reported. Similar protests were also staged in other cities across the country, including Lille.

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On Monday, some peaceful protesters from the French anti-racism organization SOS Racisme and other associations also gathered near the U.S. embassy in Paris in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

Since the killing of George Floyd and the upheaval it has sparked, people in France have drawn parallels to the case of Traoré, who was 24 when he died at a police station in a Parisian suburb two hours after being arrested as he was riding his bike with his brother. His family immediately filed a wrongful death complaint, but faced many obstacles.

The protest was staged on Tuesday after a medical-judicial report commissioned by Traoré’s family ruled that the cause of Traoré’s death was asphyxiation. This report contradicts three previous experts’ reports which had said that the young man suffered from a heart disease or infection.

On top of getting wall-to-wall coverage in French media, the Paris protest gathered support from several high-profile local stars, notably Omar Sy, who lives in L.A., and Franck Gastambide.

Sy posted a video of the protest with a note saying “The France who loves, the France we love.”


France has seen many cases of police brutality that have led to widespread riots. The Oscar-nominated film “Les Miserables,” directed by Ladj Ly, was actually inspired by the 2005 French riots, a three-week period of civil unrest that began after two teenagers, Zyed Benna et Bouna Traoré, died in police custody.

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