Several days of unrest culminated in violence after a small community in Paris, France took to the streets to demonstrate against the alleged rape and beating of a 22-year-old Black man by local police, CNN reports.
A total of 26 people were arrested on Wednesday night, the outlet reports. During previous demonstrations, protesters clashed with riot police, torching garbage cans and cars. Police answered back, firing shots to break up the crowds.
However, hundreds of peaceful protests populated throughout Paris, with demonstrators toting the rallying cry “#JusticeForTheo” on banners and posters.
The young man, identified only as Théo, was walking with his headphones on when he was approached by four officers on February 2 near his housing estate in Aulnay-sous-Bois, French outlet BFM reports.
“When I realized how violent their tone was, I said to myself ‘they seem pretty serious.’ So I stood against the wall, and then, one of the policemen beat me,” he said during his interview with the television station.
“I saw one of theme take his baton and stick it into my bum. As soon as he did that, I fell on my belly. I felt weak. It was as if my body had given up on me. Then, they handcuffed me,” he said.
Théo remains in critical condition and while doctors have not determined the extent of the damage, they suggest incontinence, BFM reports.
The four officers involved in the incident were charged with aggravated assault and one officer was charged with rape, according to the Interior Ministry. The involved officers are suspended until an internal review on the use of excessive force is completed.
After a hospital visit with President Francois-Hollande, Théo called for calm from his hospital bed. “I call to calm my city because I love it very much. Violence is not the way to support me. Justice will do its job,” he said.
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