Home Health French protests give rise to new Adama generation of anti-racism activists

French protests give rise to new Adama generation of anti-racism activists


Issued on: 18/07/2020 – 18:47

Protesters marked the four-year anniversary of the death of Adama Traoré in police custody on Saturday as a new Adama generation of activists crossing traditional class and racial lines continue to grow the movement to stamp out racial injustice in France.


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The demonstration took place in the Paris suburb of Beaumont-sur-Oise on Saturday 18 July to honour Adama Traoré, who died on his 24th birthday in July 2016 after an arrest in circumstances that still remain unclear. Climate activists also joined armed with placards that read: “We want to breathe.”

Traorés death has become symbolic of a wider cause to expose police brutality, racial injustice and economic inequities many say disproportionately affect the countrys black and Arab minorities.

Assa Traoré, who started the Truth for Adama campaign group after her brothers death, called Saturday for police to be charged with homicide, saying her brother “took the weight of gendarmes" for several minutes.

"Why did those investigations happen four years later?” Assa Traoré asked reporters. “These investigations are because the people put pressure.”

On Friday it was announced that Adama's case would be reopened with investigating judges wanting to probe the young man's past, as well as that of the gendarmes who arrested him and their possible links.

Lawyers for the officers have denied police were at fault. No one has been charged.

Ms Traoré has become the face of Frances own Black Lives Matter movement organising Saturdays protest and many others held in recent weeks, which were triggered after worldwide anger over the killing in the US of black man George Floyd at the hands of police.

She said that the movement has reached a tipping point here in France where it is attracting a more diverse generation who are black, white, rich and poor, and who refuse to be silenced.

“We became soldiers in spite of ourselves,” she told AP. "Theres a movement today. We call it the Adama generation, these people who are not afraid anymore, and these are youth who will not shut up.”

Zero tolerance

Despite the French government having promised zero tolerance for racism among police, rights groups say accusations of brutality and racism remain largely unaddressed.

Sociologist Sebastian Roché, who's written a book about police in democracy, told newspaper 20 Minutes that police in France, like the US, target minorities: “We see this during identity controls, the so-called stop and frisk policies.”

However, in terms of violence, Roché said, there is no comparison. “American police kill more than a thousand people a year, out of a population of 320 million inhabitants," he says. "The police in France kill 15 to 20 people in a population of 70 million."

Racial minorities have long contested the idea that equality is a right afforded to all. In 2005, riots broke out in the Paris suburbs, triggered by police treatment of mainly North African immigrants by police.

In 2016, Frances top official for defending citizens rights, Jacques Toubon, reported that black and Arab French people were 20 times more likely to be stopped by police than others were. Toubon followed up with a study in 2020 exposing systemic racism in the Paris police.

Reckoning with Frances colonial past

Ms Traoré says she wants to recognise not only the victims of discrimination at the hands of police in France but to highlight the systemic racism rooted in Frances colonial past.

France she said had failed to come to terms with its colonial history, including slavery. “These are Read More – Source