A police officer has been charged with raping a young man with a baton, with hundreds now demonstrating against the authority's violence
A police officer in Paris has been charged with raping a 22-year-old man stopped for an ID check, known by his first name Théo, with three others charged with assault. He suffered serious injury and required surgery after he was anally raped with an extendable police baton. The officers deny the charges.
Théo said he was ordered to stand against a wall in the Parisian neighbourhood of Aulnay-sous-Bois when he was surrounded by the officers. Footage taken by a member of the public caught the incident.
“I saw him with his baton. He rammed it into my buttocks on purpose. I fell onto my stomach, I had no strength left,” he told French TV channel BFM on Monday (February 6). He described how he was sprayed with teargas and beaten as the officers called him “bitch”.
Protests in several Parisian neighbourhoods and nearby French towns have erupted in the days since the attack. Aulnay-sous-Bois saw hundreds march wearing banners and t-shirts with the slogan ‘Justice pour Théo’. The slogan, as well as ‘police, rapists’ was written on walls. 17 people, according to authorities, were arrested in the suburb on Tuesday night, where cars and bins were set on fire. Another dozen were arrested on Wednesday night across other neighbourhoods.
Mothers from the ‘3,000’ housing estate, Rose-des-Vents, in Aulnay-sous-Bois met at the local police station to ask for riot police present in the neighbourhood to be removed, explaining that they were only adding to the tension.
Aurélie, Théo’s sister, told the news outlet her brother remains in critical condition, and could remain in hospital for three months. French president Francois Hollande has visited Théo in hospital. With Hollande at his bed, Théo asked people to stay calm and “united”, stating that he trusted the justice system to help him. Disturbances have since ceased in Aulnay-sous-Bois since Théo spoke on television, though demonstrations continue elsewhere.
As CNN reports, there are growing racial tensions between residents and the police in the suburb where Théo was assaulted, as well as Seine-Saint-Denis, another Parisian suburb with a large migrant population that saw protests ignite.
A faction of Black Lives Matter has been helping to organise the protests. Last year, a 24-year-old black man died in police custody. Accused of a slow and little reaction, an investigation continues against authorities. Similar protests broke out in 2005 when two young people were electrocuted while hiding from police.
Last year, police joined national protests again ‘anti-cop hatred’following demonstrations against incoming labour laws. In 2015, the first collective case against state racial profiling in France upheld its guilty ruling against the police for ID checks on men of ethnic minorities, according to the Guardian. The ID checks have caused unsubstantiated tension in the suburbs.