Chinese anti-violence demonstration in Paris is met with tear gas
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The Chinese population of Paris came out in force Sunday to protest lack of security after a spate of violent robberies in the ethnically diverse Belleville area. Police tear-gassed the protesters after the march descended into scuffles.
AFP - Paris police tear-gassed demonstrators from the city's Chinese community Sunday when a march to protest a spate of violent robberies descended into scuffles after a demonstrator's bag was stolen.
Police said some 8,500 demonstrators turned out onto the streets of city's eastern Belleville district, where they called for "coordinated and concerted" action by the authorities against the growing number of attacks.
Trouble broke out as the demonstration was breaking up with scuffles erupting between a group of around a dozen youths and 50 young demonstrators, police sources told AFP.
According to multiple witnesses, the trouble started when a bag belonging to one of the demonstrators was stolen. Police were forced to intervene and three people were arrested, said the police source.
Police tear-gassed the crowd after objects were thrown at them, prompting demonstrators to overturn cars and block traffic in the area for several hours.
Belleville is an ethnically diverse district of the French capital that has seen an influx of Asian immigrants in the last 10 years.
According to organisers from French-Chinese organisations, who distributed 5,000 T-shirts and stickers saying "Security For All", it was the largest demonstration by the Chinese community on record in France.
"French-Asian associations are marching for the first time against the lack of security," said the president of the organisers, Chan Sing Mo. "If the problem continues, we'll come out again in larger numbers."
In the last few months, Chinese in the French capital have been subjected to attacks and violent robberies by youths in Belleville and other parts of eastern Paris, and many feel at a disadvantage as immigrants.
"Those who can't speak French or don't have proper papers are not able to complain," a florist in Belleville told AFP.