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Parisians, Inspired By George Floyd Demonstrations, Defy Coronavirus Ban To Protest


Sometimes for better, sometimes worse, the United States remains the country where events capture the attention of the world, and protests here are no exception. They've prompted protests overseas, and other governments have taken the chance to criticize the Trump administration's handling of the crisis. We're going to hear what's being said in China, in the U.K. and in France, where we begin with NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who's in Paris, where some protests grew violent overnight. Hi there, Eleanor.


INSKEEP: What happened?

BEARDSLEY: Well, the violence wasn't the main point. The main point is that not more than 10 people are supposed to get together now because of the coronavirus and 20,000 people amassed in front of the main courthouse in Paris. And yeah, eventually, police had to break it up when they tried to march. But it was not about the violence. They're very angry about police racism and, you know, injustice in France.

INSKEEP: Now, you just said injustice in France, but was there a connection to the protests in the United States?

BEARDSLEY: There absolutely was; of course, it's George Floyd. The protests in the U.S. have totally inspired the protesters here, but it's about a French case. A black man, Adama Traore, died in police custody four years ago, and his family has been fighting for justice. No police officer was arrested. They say that he was asphyxiated, exactly like George Floyd. Listen to this.


ASSA TRAORE: (Speaking French).


BEARDSLEY: Now, that's the man's sister. That's Assa Traore. She says, today, it is no longer just our fight family's combat; it's everybody's combat. This is all of our fight. She says, you know, the fight for justice for George Floyd is also the fight for Adama. And everyone I talked to there, they said, you know, the racism is more hidden in France, but people have - you know, of color have died in French police custody, and we're fed up with it. It's the same thing, even though people are not getting killed all the time because they have stricter gun laws here.

INSKEEP: So the protest in the United States inspired this new protest against a 4-year-old case. Am I understanding you correctly?

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely. That case has sort of been lagging, but it's still going on, and this seems to have given it, you know, new oomph. I mean, 20,000 black and white French people came out and said, we want justice. We're tired of this. We want, you know, somebody to be arrested in the case of Adama Traore.

INSKEEP: OK. Thanks very much. That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.