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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

April 21, 2020
The wheel of a van burns in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris, (Image: GETTY)

RIOTS have broken out in Paris amid anger over the "heavy-handed" tactics used by police and the continuation of the country's coronavirus lockdown.

The French police have come under fire for alleged "heavy-handed" treatment of ethnic minorities during the lockdown. The riots broke out after a 30-year-old man was critically injured in the Villeneuve-la-Garenne neighbourhood in a collision with an unmarked police car.

Tear gas and baton charges were fired by police in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, northern Paris, in the early hours this morning as fireworks exploded in the street.

Videos posted on social media show fireworks shooting off in all directions as police rush to the scene.

Armed police were seen moving through the area as groups of protesters congregated.
One social media user filmed Parisian police manhandling French journalist Taha Bouhafs, who is from an Algerian background, and holding his arms behind his back.
Mr Bouhafs had reportedly filmed tear gas canisters being fired by officers who were hit by numerous fireworks.
The protests come after prosecution opened up an enquiry after the 30-year-old motorcyclist was critically injured in the Villeneuve-la-Garenne collision with an unmarked police car.
Friends of the victim, who have not been named, claimed the Saturday night incident was an example of police "heavy-handedness" against ethnic minority communities during the coronavirus lockdown.
A source close to the case said "The very badly injured man comes from an Arab Muslim background."
"He is critical in hospital, and people in the area have reacted very badly to what has happened."
A local police spokesman said: "Police and their reinforcements have been the target of rioters, who have thrown stones and fireworks.

"The violence started in Villeneuve-la-Garenne and has spread to other towns and estates nearby."
The news comes after prosecutors in Béziers, in the south of France, announced that officers were facing criminal charges last week for a seperate incident.
They are facing charges after a father-of-three died while under arrest for breaching the coronavirus lockdown.
Three officers were videoed dragging Mohamed Gabsi, 33, along the ground during a curfew.
They are suspected of "intentional violence by a public official leading to manslaughter" and "non assistance of a person in danger".
The offences come with a potential combined prison sentence of 15 years plus, said local prosecutors.
Mr Gabsi had suffered a heart attack by the time he arrived at a local police station.
Witnesses say they saw two of the officers sitting on top of him in their patrol car according to reports.
Mr Gabsi’s death follows numerous complaints about police racism as forces across France enforce one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.
A spokesman for France’s Human Rights League described the death of Mr Gabsi as a "scandal that shows how the poor are being killed" by the lockdown.
President Emmanuel Macron recently extended France's social distancing measures until May 11.
He said the measures are "working" and "It is likely that we are not going to see an end to confinement that would happen in one move everywhere and for everyone."
The French lockdown could lead to a 10 per cent contraction in the French economy this year.
The country has been in lockdown from March 17, and this will continue until at least May 11.