Five black activists burst into the African collections at the Quai Branly Museum - Jacques Chirac early Friday afternoon. These few men tore from its base a 19th century work, which is a Bari funerary post from a tribe between Chad and Sudan, in central-east Africa. "They disputed the presence of this work and others in the French collections," said the Ministry of Culture.
"You are thieves!"
In a video posted on YouTube, we hear an African activist demanding his restitution and denouncing the attitude of the French authorities, among other demands. "You are thieves!" Said one of them, post in hand, in a video relayed on social networks. The work uprooted by these activists would not have suffered significant damage and has been placed in safety in the museum's reserves.
Protesters in #Paris' Musée du Quai #Branly were demanding the museum to give back its artefacts to their countries of origin today. Protesters asked the Musée du Quai Branly to return its artifacts to their countries of origin today. pic.twitter.com/oXbEQqofED- Elisa Miebach (@elisamiebach) June 12, 2020
The activists were arrested by the police shortly after they entered the establishment in western Paris. A complaint by the museum and an investigation is underway. The Minister of Culture, Franck Riester, condemned "with the utmost firmness these acts which damage heritage".
These acts come in a global climate of demands from the black and African-American populations, especially after the violent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, in the United States. In France, these claims resonate with those of the family of Adama Traoré, who died after his arrest in 2016.