News Brief

Protesters Take to the Streets in France After a Black Muslim Man Dies in Police Custody

“We know if things don't burn nothing will come of it, that is how we feel.”

France is looking a lot like the U.S. right now with protests for a third straight night after a young black Muslim man died in police custody.


Similarly to Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman who was found hanging in a Waller County, Texas jail a year ago after being detained for a routine traffic stop, and 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was arrested for illegal possession of a switchblade whose spinal cord was severed while being transported in a police van in Baltimore, Maryland—Adama Traore died while police drove him to a station Tuesday night in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris, Telesur reports.

He was arrested for allegedly interfering with the arrest of his brother-in-law who was involved in an extortion case. This sounds very much like Jasmine Richards, a Black Lives Matter protester, who as of last month faced four-years in prison after she was convicted of a rarely used statute in California called “felony lynching” for attempting to “de-arrest” someone during a peaceful protest. The charges against Richards were later dropped.

There are conflicting reports on how Traore, who had just turned 24 years old on Tuesday, died. According to Telesur, police say he died because of a “very serious infection” while the BBC  and AJ+ report Traore suffered a heart attack.

Local prosecutor Yves Jannier says Traore "fainted during the ride" to the police station and paramedics were unable to revive him, according to the BBC.

However it happened, the young man’s life has been cut short, and his family and friends are demanding answers as they say Traore was healthy. They suspect he may have been beaten to death by police.

Traore’s brother Baguy tells Le Parisien that when he arrived at the police station he saw him lying on the floor. A police officer with blood on his shirt reportedly told Baguy that Traore was “pretending.”

In response to the young man’s untimely death, there have been ongoing clashes between police dressed in riot gear and protesters. There have been reports of police injuries and arson of a dozen or more vehicles and several public buildings. Protesters have been chanting, “No justice. No peace,” which has become a popular tagline when confronting police brutality.

"We know it is going to be covered up. We know if things don't burn nothing will come of it, that is how we feel," a 24-year-old who took part in the disturbances tells BBC.

According to the AJ+ video that you can watch below, there has been criticism that the French media has fixated more on the riots that have taken place this week, than on the death of Traore.

This young man’s tragic demise is yet another example that the struggle for justice, police brutality and recognition that black lives matter is indeed a worldwide phenomenon.

Watch the AJ+ video below to learn more about the riots taking place in France.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.