18 arrested in France as protests turn violent

French riot police arrested 18 people who turned violent during an unauthorized demonstration overnight over the 2016 death of a black man in police custody in Paris.

Some 20,000 people demonstrated in front of the Paris Court near the ring road in the north of the capital on Tuesday evening, calling for justice for Adama Traore, who died after he was arrested for a dispute over an identity check, reports Xinhua news agency.

Violence erupted when some demonstrators hurled projectiles, set on fire rubbish bins and vandalized properties while police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Of those detained on charges of damaging public and private properties and carrying prohibited weapons, 17 remained in police custody, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Rallies against police violence were also staged in other French cities of Lille, Marseille, and Lyon, the report added.

In the protests, many carried banners that said ‘Justice pour Adama’, while others also referred to George Floyd, the African-American man whose death in police custody has sparked demonstations across the US.

On Tuesday morning, Paris police announced that the demonstration was not authorized, as public gatherings of more than 10 people were prohibited due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The protest came after a new probe, commissioned by Traore’s family, which said that he died of asphyxiation due to the arrest technique police officers had used during the operation.

State investigators had dismissed the charge of police brutality in the arrest of Traore, saying that the man died of heart failure due to pre-existing medical conditions.