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French students barricade schools in protest over alleged police abuse

By Andrew V. Pestano
French students barricade schools in protest over alleged police abuse
The entrance to the Lycee Arago high school in Paris is seen barricaded with garbage bins and a sign reading: "No to Police Rape/Violence" after sporadic clashes erupted around high schools against police violence on Thursday. The latest protests come after weeks of demonstrations after a young black man who said he was sodomized and beaten by police. Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Police in Paris fired tear gas and arrested at least 26 people after hundreds of students held a protest on Thursday over the alleged sodomization by French police of a 22-year-old black man.

In the demonstrations, students, mainly high school students, blocked the entrances of at least 16 schools with items such as trash cans, some which were set ablaze, the Paris Board of Education said. The entrances to dozens of other schools were partially blocked.

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"Blockages are not a legitimate way to protest. They endanger staff and students," Gilles Pécout, head of the Paris Board of Education, said in a statement.

The demonstrations on Thursday are the latest protests over the alleged police abuse of the young black man, who said he was sodomized with a police baton, racially abused and beaten during an arrest on Feb. 2 when police were performing identity checks as they searched for drug dealers in northwest Paris. The French Interior Ministry said four officers have been charged with aggravated assault, one of which was also charged with rape, over the incident amid an investigation.

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Police said the protests were not lawful because protesters were not granted prior permission. No serious injuries were reported but there were pictures and video of clashes between protesters and police. Up to 1,000 people participated in the demonstrations, CNN reported.

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Protesters held signs and chanted slogans such as "No justice, no peace" and "Revenge for" the young black man. There were some acts of vandalism, such as the graffiti and the smashing of ATMs and windows.

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