FIERCE clashes broke out between the French CRS riot police and protesters for the third night in a row on Wednesday night.
Demonstrators are furious after an incident took place on Sunday in which the French police banged on 56-year-old Chinese man Shaoyao Liu’s door. When he opened it, they opened fire and shot him dead.
On Wednesday night, the vast crowds of hundreds of protesters screamed, ‘Murderers!’ and ‘Justice must be done, the killer must be punished!’ Bottles flew as Paris police charged and used tear gas on the anti-police-brutality protesters. On Tuesday night’s protest a police car was set on fire.
France’s Chinese community of two million people is determined to ‘find out why a policeman comes into someone’s home, breaks down the door, and pulls the trigger,’ Liu’s nephew, Lulu Zheng said.
Wednesday evening’s protest was outside City Hall, while the previous two were in the northern Paris district where the death took place. The details of the 56-year-old unemployed man’s death are ‘extremely obscure’, one of the family’s lawyers, François Ormillien, told a press conference on Wednesday.
Four out of five of Shaoyao Liu’s children were present when he was killed. One of his daughters, who used the name Sabine, said that the police burst in on a ‘normal Sunday’. ”They began to knock, quicker and quicker,’ she said. ‘My father tried to hold back the door. I was completely panicked. The door burst open and the shot went off.’
Sabine, 26, said the officers did not announce that they were police and that her father was knocked to the floor and did not have time to strike the police officer. He was carrying scissors because he had been preparing to cook fish, she said. According to the police version they claim that Shaoyao Liu ‘struck one of the officers in the armpit with the scissors’.
‘While the aggressor tried to strike the injured officer again, one of the policemen fired a shot in response,’ they claimed in a statement. The family explain that he was a loving father and there was no ‘deadly threat’ to the police whatsoever. The Chinese media have reported the case, one talking of ‘the racial prejudice of the French police’, and the Chinese government has appealed to France to ‘guarantee its nationals’ safety and rights.’
On the demonstration a young Chinese women told reporters: ‘It’s racism because where they are dealing with Africans or Chinese they come and kill us. It’s unjust.’ On social media one user said Liu had been ‘like a sheep, swallowed by a pack of hungry wolves’.
Some went further, claiming that France’s purported values – ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ – were merely an ‘illusion’. France has recently seen a surge in protests directed against police brutality and institutionalised racism, including one that broke out in a Paris suburb early in February after a 22-year-old black man was beaten and then raped with a baton by four police officers. The incident in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois turned the 22-year-old, identified only as Theo, into a symbol for all those who stand up to police violence.