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'Stop state crimes': French protesters rally against racism, police brutality

French protestors hold a banner reading "Stop state crimes" during a protest rally against racism and police brutality, in Paris, on March 19, 2022.

The French have staged protest rallies against racism and police brutality across the country, calling for an end to "state crimes."

Thousands of protesters marched through streets in the capital city Paris, as well as other main cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse and Lyon, on Saturday.

They held banners denouncing "state crimes," and carried placards reading "Black Lives Matter."

The Interior Ministry said a dozen protest rallies took place across France, with the turnout reaching 3,500. However, protest leaders claimed as many as 10,000 people had shown up for the protests on Saturday.

Clashes were reported with police in Paris and Lyon, where tear gas and water canon were used to disperse the crowds.

Several people spoke at the Paris rally to tell stories of members of their families who had died at the hands of the police.

The rally was called by a group campaigning for justice for Adama Traore, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016.

Traore's sister Assa Traore called on those attending the rally to "denounce the denial of justice, denounce social, racial, police violence."

She drew a direct parallel between her brother's death and the killing of African American George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis two years ago.

Assa Traore renewed her demand for a full investigation into her brother's killing in police custody.

Saturday's rallies came ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, held on March 21 to mark the day, in 1960, when police in apartheid South Africa opened fire on a peaceful demonstration, killing 69 people.



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