Protesters riot close to Gare du Nord

  • Tension has gripped some Paris suburbs since February 2, when a man was allegedly beaten up and raped
  • Hundreds of rioters tonight took to the streets at the Barbès - Rochechouart station, close to Gare du Nord
  • Windows were smashed, rubbish bins were set on fire and police cars were targeted during the disturbance 

By Thomas Burrows and Peter Allen In Paris for MailOnline

Published: 14:55 EST, 15 February 2017 | Updated: 17:15 EST, 15 February 2017

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Police pepper-sprayed protesters in Paris tonight as suburban rioting spilled into the French capital. 

Tension has gripped the Parisian suburbs since February 2, when a man called Theo was allegedly beaten up and raped.

Hundreds of rioters tonight took to the streets around the Barbès - Rochechouart station, close to Gare du Nord.

The areas is also close to the Sacre Coeur basilica in the Montmartre area, a tourist hotspot. 

Windows were smashed, rubbish bins were set on fire and police cars targeted during the disturbance.

Police fire tear gas during a demonstration to show support to the 22-year-old youth worker, identified only as Theo Police fire tear gas during a demonstration to show support to the 22-year-old youth worker, identified only as Theo

Police fire tear gas during a demonstration to show support to the 22-year-old youth worker, identified only as Theo

Rubbish burns on the street as protesters hold banners that read 'in the face of police impunity let's be ungovernable' and 'cops rapists murderers' (right)  Rubbish burns on the street as protesters hold banners that read 'in the face of police impunity let's be ungovernable' and 'cops rapists murderers' (right) 

Rubbish burns on the street as protesters hold banners that read 'in the face of police impunity let's be ungovernable' and 'cops rapists murderers' (right) 

Rioting in Parisian suburbs sparked by alleged police brutality has escalated and spread to the centre of the city  Rioting in Parisian suburbs sparked by alleged police brutality has escalated and spread to the centre of the city 

Rioting in Parisian suburbs sparked by alleged police brutality has escalated and spread to the centre of the city 

Violent protests have broken out across France after a 22-year-old youth worker, Theo, was allegedly raped by police Violent protests have broken out across France after a 22-year-old youth worker, Theo, was allegedly raped by police

Violent protests have broken out across France after a 22-year-old youth worker, Theo, was allegedly raped by police

As fire crews went in to extinguish the blazes, lines of riot police were attacked and shops were looted. 

A policeman at the scene said: 'Windows have been smashed and officers attacked. Small groups of protesters wearing hoods to hide their identities are causing trouble and then running away.

'Everything is being done to try and disperse the crowds, but this could go on for a long time yet.'

Tensions have been running high since February 2 when Theo, a youth worker, claimed he was raped by police with a truncheon, as well as racially abused, spat on and beaten around his genitals.

One officer has been charged with rape, and three more with assault since Theo was hospitalised.

He underwent emergency surgery and has since been visited by President Francois Hollande, who has appealed for calm.

There are fears violence could reach 2005 levels, where the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted while hiding from police in an electricity substation sparked weeks of riots and led to a state of emergency being declared.

A hooded protester hurls a paint canister at the police during the demonstration to support Theo in central Paris  A hooded protester hurls a paint canister at the police during the demonstration to support Theo in central Paris 

A hooded protester hurls a paint canister at the police during the demonstration to support Theo in central Paris 

People gathered for Theo in Barbes Rochechouart district in Paris, after he was allegedly assaulted on February 2 People gathered for Theo in Barbes Rochechouart district in Paris, after he was allegedly assaulted on February 2

People gathered for Theo in Barbes Rochechouart district in Paris, after he was allegedly assaulted on February 2

Riot police officers stand guard in front of the restaurant 'Barbes' during the demonstration tonight Riot police officers stand guard in front of the restaurant 'Barbes' during the demonstration tonight

Riot police officers stand guard in front of the restaurant 'Barbes' during the demonstration tonight

Clouds of tear gas surround people during a protest against police brutality in Paris tonight Clouds of tear gas surround people during a protest against police brutality in Paris tonight

Clouds of tear gas surround people during a protest against police brutality in Paris tonight

Police stand guard against the demonstrates protesting in the streets of Paris  Police stand guard against the demonstrates protesting in the streets of Paris 

Police stand guard against the demonstrates protesting in the streets of Paris 

An anti riot policeman holds a tear gas canister as he walks by a fire during the protest to show support to Theo An anti riot policeman holds a tear gas canister as he walks by a fire during the protest to show support to Theo

An anti riot policeman holds a tear gas canister as he walks by a fire during the protest to show support to Theo

Tear gas fills an empty Parisian street as riots turned ugly in the French capital tonight  Tear gas fills an empty Parisian street as riots turned ugly in the French capital tonight 

Tear gas fills an empty Parisian street as riots turned ugly in the French capital tonight 

The riots started at the beginning of the month over alleged police brutality in the arrest of a 22-year-old black man The riots started at the beginning of the month over alleged police brutality in the arrest of a 22-year-old black man

The riots started at the beginning of the month over alleged police brutality in the arrest of a 22-year-old black man

The violence coincides with political tensions as the French presidential election campaign gains momentum.

National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, widely expected to reach the decisive second round of the election, accuses the political 'establishment' of neglecting the suburban areas of Paris.

She said: 'All this is the result of complacency in French society, which is the fault of politicians who have governed us for years.'

A scandal engulfing one-time Thatcherite frontrunner François Fillon, over payments made to his family members, could give a boost to Ms Le Pen.

Small rallies have taken place in other French cities, including Rouen in the north, Nantes in the west and Toulouse in the south-west.  

Around 50 people have been detained since the protests began.  

French President Francois Hollande visited the victim, named Theo, in hospital, where he has undergone emergency surgery French President Francois Hollande visited the victim, named Theo, in hospital, where he has undergone emergency surgery

French President Francois Hollande visited the victim, named Theo, in hospital, where he has undergone emergency surgery

Hooded youths have clashed with police in the suburbs of Paris and tensions have now spilled into the centre of the city  Hooded youths have clashed with police in the suburbs of Paris and tensions have now spilled into the centre of the city 

Hooded youths have clashed with police in the suburbs of Paris and tensions have now spilled into the centre of the city 

Hundreds of rioters went on the rampage over the alleged rape of a young black man by French police Hundreds of rioters went on the rampage over the alleged rape of a young black man by French police

Hundreds of rioters went on the rampage over the alleged rape of a young black man by French police

A man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask attends a protest against police brutality after a young black man was severely injured during his arrest earlier this month in Bobigny A man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask attends a protest against police brutality after a young black man was severely injured during his arrest earlier this month in Bobigny

A man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask attends a protest against police brutality after a young black man was severely injured during his arrest earlier this month in Bobigny

Crowds gathered in Paris  to call for justice for the young man allegedly brutalized by police Crowds gathered in Paris  to call for justice for the young man allegedly brutalized by police

Crowds gathered in Paris to call for justice for the young man allegedly brutalized by police

A protester kick back a gas canister at the police during the demonstration to support Theo and against police violence A protester kick back a gas canister at the police during the demonstration to support Theo and against police violence

A protester kick back a gas canister at the police during the demonstration to support Theo and against police violence

Crowds gathered in Paris tonight to call for justice for the young man allegedly brutalized by police Crowds gathered in Paris tonight to call for justice for the young man allegedly brutalized by police

Crowds gathered in Paris tonight to call for justice for the young man allegedly brutalized by police

Protesters holding a signs which says 'Police, Rapists, Murderers' as they march during an anti police brutality demonstration Protesters holding a signs which says 'Police, Rapists, Murderers' as they march during an anti police brutality demonstration

Protesters holding a signs which says 'Police, Rapists, Murderers' as they march during an anti police brutality demonstration

Rioting has escalated after suburban protests over the alleged rape of a young black man by French police officers Rioting has escalated after suburban protests over the alleged rape of a young black man by French police officers

Rioting has escalated after suburban protests over the alleged rape of a young black man by French police officers

Tear-gas was used by police as buildings and rubbish bins were set on fire in the Barbes Rochechouart district in Paris Tear-gas was used by police as buildings and rubbish bins were set on fire in the Barbes Rochechouart district in Paris

Tear-gas was used by police as buildings and rubbish bins were set on fire in the Barbes Rochechouart district in Paris

Wednesday night's protest at Barbes was illegal as police refused to give permission for it Wednesday night's protest at Barbes was illegal as police refused to give permission for it

Wednesday night's protest at Barbes was illegal as police refused to give permission for it

 

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By Mathias Dillion 02/15/2017 11:15:00