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Violent clashes continue over alleged police rape

A burnt out van in the Val d'Argent Sud neighbourhood of Argenteuil, after incidents broke out earlier in the evening which led to the arrests of 11 people Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

At least 11 people, including eight minors, were arrested in the northwestern Paris suburb of Argenteuil on Sunday, in the latest of a string of violent protests over the alleged police rape of a 22-year-old black man identified as Théo.

Around 50 people gathered in Argenteuil’s main square at around 5:30pm local time in response to a call posted on social media, according to police, who said the protesters came with the express purpose of “instigating clashes with security forces”.

Demonstrators hurled projectiles at police, setting fire to a vehicle and three rubbish bins.

The protesters also attacked a public bus, wounding the driver’s head, in addition to assaulting a journalist covering the demonstration, police said.

On Saturday, around 2,000 people demonstrated Saturday outside a courthouse to demand justice for Theo, a 22-year-old youth worker who required surgery after his arrest last week in the gritty suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois.

The protest in the northern suburb of Bobigny near Aulnay-sous-Bois was peaceful at the start but groups of demonstrators later clashed with police and went on the rampage, attacking cars, shops and public property.

Several vehicles were torched and bus shelters and shopfronts smashed in Bobigny and neighbouring areas.

A little girl trapped in a burning car was rescued by a 16-year-old demonstrator, who was heralded as a hero on social media.
The police accused "several hundred" individuals of various "acts of violence and damage."

The rioting capped a week of nightly clashes in the northern Paris suburb over the treatment of Theo, who claims a police officer sodomised him with his baton after a stop-and-search check in a housing estate.

Around 50 people have been detained since the protests began.
One officer has been charged with rape over the affair, and three others with assault. All four have been suspended from their duties.