PARIS (Reuters) – French police banned demonstrations planned outside the U.S. Embassy and on the lawns near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Saturday as protests mount around the world over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Paris police department said on Friday it had decided to ban the demonstrations because of the risks of social disorder and health dangers from large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trouble broke out at another anti-police demonstration in the French capital on Wednesday. Thousands had turned up despite a police ban on the event in memory of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation which some have likened to Floyd’s death.
Unrest has broken out across the United States after the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye on Wednesday dismissed comparisons between police violence in France and the United States, saying there was no systemic state violence in France and that incidents were fully investigated and punished.
Saturday’s planned protests were billed on social media as demonstrations against police violence, the Paris police said in a statement.
It added that this raised fears of social disorder as had been the case at the Traore protests, where police clashed with demonstrators.
Some law enforcement officials in France have been accused in recent years of disproportionate use of force, particularly during the “Yellow Vest” protests in 2018 and 2019.
The government has always rejected the term “police violence” despite repeated criticism from human rights organisations.
However, President Emmanuel Macron at the start of the year announced a plan to improve the ethics of the security forces.
(Reporting by John Irish, Henri-Pierre Andre and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Daniel Wallis)