Editor’s note: Trigger warnings: rape, sexual violence, state violence, anti-blackness. Four police officers in a Paris suburb allegedly raped a 22-year-old black man, and protesters are seeking justice.
So-called officers of the law “forced a 22-year-old man to the ground, beat him, and anally raped him with a baton at a housing estate in the northern Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois” while arresting him during an alleged identity check, CNN reports.
Théo a réagi avec dignité et responsabilité. La justice a été saisie, il faut lui faire confiance. Elle ira jusqu’au bout. pic.twitter.com/YRlpdFXII6
— François Hollande (@fhollande) February 7, 2017
The responding protests in Paris have spread to at least five surrounding towns as people seek justice for a man identified only as “Théo.”
The accused officers have all been charged with aggravated assault, with one charged with rape, the Interior Ministry reports.
Théo described the incident to a local television station, saying that once he felt the police officer’s baton enter him, it was as if his “body had given up on me.”
— Astrophysicist (@Aubrey_Forbes) February 8, 2017
Théo said that he was walking with his headphones on when he was approached by the police.
“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,” Théo told France’s BFM television channel on Tuesday.
“I saw one of them 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.”
Authorities say protesters torched garbage bins and vehicles in Aulnay-sous-Bois on Tuesday night. Videos shared on social media showed clashes between riot police and youths as fires burned in the streets.
Police fired warning shots into the air to disperse the crowd, according to French reports. Police said 17 people involved in the violence were arrested.
On Monday, hundreds of peaceful protesters marched in the same northern suburb. Demonstrators carried banners reading “Justice for Theo” past a nearby building that had “police, rapists” written on it in graffiti.
French President Francois Hollande visited Théo in the hospital, where he was still in critical condition.
Read more at CNN.