Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Michel Leidig, Agency: Central European News
This distressing viral footage with over a million views shows a screaming 7-month-pregnant black woman being tackled to the ground by railway guards on the outskirts of Paris.
The incident took place in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a commune in the Seine-Saint-Denis department in the Ile-de-France region in the north-eastern suburbs of the French capital Paris, and has caused widespread outrage on social media.
The footage begins with an SNCF (France’s national state-owned railway company) agent pushing a heavily pregnant black woman backwards in a train station as she says: “Don’t push me.”
She is then pulled and tackled to the ground as she repeatedly says: “Don’t push me.” She appears to cry out in pain as the agent and a colleague take her down and pin her to the floor on her stomach.
While they take her down, a black man, her partner, can be heard trying to get to her saying: “Let me go.”
He then adds: “Leave her alone. She is pregnant.”
He tries to intervene, but two other SNCF railway security agents stop him from doing so.
The woman can be heard screaming as her partner tries to intervene again, aiming a kick at the security agent who pushed her and took her down and who by that point is putting handcuffs on her.
A male voice, visibly that of the person filming, who has not been identified, can be heard telling the agents: “She is pregnant! She is pregnant! I swear to God, you are messing up! She is pregnant!”
But they ignore him.
The agents are repeatedly told to stop what they are doing and that the woman is pregnant, but they are having none of it and tell the people trying to intervene to leave the station. The woman’s partner tries to intervene again but the agents then detain him too.
One of the agents arresting the pregnant woman can then be seen stamping on her head, causing her wig to fall off. The agents can then be seen trying to bend the woman’s arm behind her back as they are repeatedly told that she is pregnant.
The footage then pans to two other agents who can be seen trying to restrain the woman’s partner as the footage ends.
The footage was shared on social media where it has notched up well over 1.2 million views with the original post alone.
It was captioned: “I have just filmed SNCF agents assaulting a pregnant woman… bunch of racists (Aulnay-sous-Bois).”
Social media users have expressed outrage at the footage. Celebrities, including footballer Samuel Eto’o, have also reportedly expressed their shock.
The SNCF has defended its employees, claiming the video does not show the full altercation and that the pregnant woman had refused to wear a mask, and spat at and bitten the agents, and that they had only acted the way they did after telling her three times to leave the station.
Three SNCF agents have filed a complaint. The woman, named Diatou, 23, was taken to hospital where it was confirmed that she was 7 months pregnant. She then spent 7 hours in detention before being released on bail under judicial supervision.
Her unborn child’s health status is unclear.
Her partner was reportedly placed in police custody for “contempt and violence”.
The woman has reportedly also filed a complaint with the authorities.
Speaking after the incident, which took place last week, she told local media: “Every time I see this footage, I have to cry. I see the images in my head.”
She claims she did nothing to provoke such behaviour from the agents, saying: “I did not insult them, I did not hit them, I don’t understand why they tackled me to the floor.”