-Article by Alice Ferré
Outrage spread all over France last week, after 22-year-old youth worker Theo was allegedly beaten and raped by police officers. On Saturday, more than 2,000 people gathered outside Bobigny’s courthouse in a call for Justice, after a national police report cited by AFP news agency claimed on Friday that “there are insufficient elements to show that this was rape.”
On February 20, the Bobigny court will decide whether police officers will face trial.
The protest, originally peaceful, burst into a fight with the police as the protesters cast projectiles and set cars and bins on fire. As police officers answered with tear gas, the protesters’ anger and frustration skyrocketed; according to a police report: “Several vehicles, including a media truck, were set on fire and police officers had to intervene to rescue a young child trapped in a burning vehicle.”
The released CCTV recordings of Theo’s arrest had been circulating on the Internet for a few weeks, showing Theo on the ground being beaten up by four men. The victim’s family claims Theo requires anal surgery after he was assaulted with a truncheon and suffers a severe head trauma.
Riots against police violence are not singular in France; in 2005, Theo’s suburb of Aulnay-Sous-Bois was under the spotlight for violence between the police and the youth after two teenagers got electrocuted to death during an arrest.
That incident started three weeks of rioting and escalating violence in which 10,000 cars and 300 buildings were set on fire in Parisian suburbs and led Nicolas Sarkozy, then Interior Minister, to declare a state of emergency.