Assa

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Ivry sur Seine, 4pm

I get to the building where Assa lives. She’s waiting for me with her kids and tells me to use the elevator. Assa is in her thirties and already has 3 kids. « I wanted kids at a young age, so I would grow up with them. I’d like to have a fourth one. » She likes to cook, go shopping and traveling.

Assa was born and raised in Beaumont-sur-Oise, in le Val d’Oise (95). « I’m a true Beaumontoise (what the citizens of this city are called). Part of my family lives there. It’s a city that I really like because, even though it’s a bit far from Paris, it’s very green and it’s big, just like the countryside. I am someone who likes wide-open spaces and calm places, where you can breathe. I lived a happy childhood. »

She was a caseworker for social issues before she gave it all up to dedicate her time to the cause of her brother’s death, Adama. Adama was killed about a year ago, by police officers after an ID check. « At first, it was very difficult, we felt a lot of sadness. But this sadness quickly turned into anger and rage. We are a close family and I believe that’s something that helped us get through this shock. »

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On July 19th, 2016, Adama Traoré and his brother Bagui were stopped by the police in Beaumont-sur-Oise. Adama was brutally overpowered and controlled by police officers and was placed in police custody after trying to avoid the check. He died several hours later in the hands of police officers, in very vague circumstances. An initial autopsy mentioned a heart condition as well as a « serious infection ». His family then asked for a second autopsy, which turned out to be very different: suffocation apparently led to Adama’s death. Following that, marches and protests took place in Paris and the suburbs, demanding justice for this umpteenth police blunder. However, the case was quickly covered up and few media, apart from CliqueTv, took the time to actually speak of it. But this dissuasion does not work with Assa. « They’re making all the necessary efforts to shut us up, but it’s not working. My brother Bagui is still in prison and they continue with the harassment towards our family. But they don’t understand that we’ll go up against them until the end, we won’t let ourselves be pushed around, we’ll go all the way to the end to finally have justice. »

We talk about the concert that recently took place for the cause. « To organize this concert was a great idea, the money allowed us to pay for the legal fees, but it was really exhausting, and we had a lot of work considering the little time we had. Youssoupha (french rapper) really helped us organize it all. There was a good atmosphere throughout the whole concert, and good energy. I thank all the artists and the public for gathering that night for Adama’s cause. »

What’s next for the movement? « We continue rallying in different cities in France and I’m currently working on a book that will recount the whole case. We’re also getting ready for the 1st anniversary of Adama’s death. » And if someday, justice is done, what would she like for the future? « I’d like to keep working for the Association Adama, keep my brother’s name alive through good actions and maybe even, why not, create a political party. I’d also like to travel with my kids. »

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translated by Sophie