PARIS â€” Violent clashes in Paris between baton-wielding police and protesters outraged at the police killing of a Chinese man in his home injured three police officers and led to the arrest of 35 protesters, authorities said Tuesday.
The incidents prompted international attention, as China’s Foreign Ministry expressed concern to French authorities over Sunday’s killing of the man, who it says was shot by a plainclothes officer.
France’s Foreign Ministry responded Tuesday by calling the security of Chinese in France “a priority.”
Monday night saw angry demonstrators from the Asian community gather outside a police station in Paris’ multicultural northeast where the killing occurred, said Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, of the Paris Prosecutor’s Office.
The crowd’s fury stemmed from rumours that the man was shot in his home in Paris 19th district in front of his children while cutting up fish with scissors and had not hurt anyone. Police say an officer fired in self-defence during a raid after the victim wounded an officer with a “bladed weapon.”
With chants of “murderers” and candles that spelled “opposition to violence” lining the road Monday night, scores of demonstrators broke down barricades, threw projectiles and set fire to cars during the brutal clashes with police that lasted several hours.
Authorities said 26 demonstrators were held for participating in a group planning violence, six for throwing projectiles, and three others for violence against police that saw a police car damaged by arson.
Witnesses said that one man of Chinese origin was injured in the clashes, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China had summoned a representative of the French embassy in Beijing Tuesday and urged French officials to “get to the bottom of the incident as soon as possible.”
Chinese authorities “hope that Chinese nationals in France can express their wishes and demands in a reasonable way,” Hua said.
France’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that an inquiry has started to shed light on the exact circumstances of the shooting.
This did not calm some 100 people from Paris’ Asian community who gathered at the police station on Tuesday afternoon to demand justice â€” including families and friends of those in custody waiting for them to be released.
“Justice must be done, the killer must be punished!” the protesters shouted, ahead of a meeting of the Chinese community Tuesday to decide on what further action to take.
France is home to Europe’s largest population of ethnic Chinese, a community that routinely accuses police of not doing enough to protect them against racism.
Last September, 15,000 people rallied in the French capital to urge an end to violence against the Asian community after the beating to death of Chinese tailor Chaolin Zhangh called new attention to ethnic tensions in Paris suburbs. The victim’s lawyer said the August 2016 attack was ethnically motivated.
“Chinese are victims of racist attitudes in France â€” especially from other ethnic groups like Arabs. They are targets for crime because they often carry cash and many don’t have residence permits, so can be threatened easily. They’re angry with police for not protecting them enough,” said Pierre Picquart, Chinese expert at the University of Paris VIII.
“Chinese people do not like to protest or express themselves publicly, so when we see them like this it means they are very, very angry. They’ve had enough of discrimination,” he added.
He estimated that there are 2 million people living in France of Chinese origin.
The recent killing and clashes also come just days after thousands marched in Paris in a show of anger over the alleged rape in February of a young black man by police. The alleged incident in the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois turned the 22-year-old, identified only as Theo, into a symbol for minorities standing up to police violence.
Associated Press writer Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.
Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press