African fury over Death in custody
About 100 Africans staged an angry protest in Guangzhou's busy city centre yesterday afternoon after an African man died following a fight with a local man on Monday.
Guangzhou police said the African lapsed into a coma at a police station on Monday afternoon and died soon after following a dispute with an illegal electric bicycle taxi driver about the fare for a ride.
The police did not identify the African's nationality, but two independent sources said he was Nigerian.
The latest clash follows the launch of a campaign in Beijing recently targeting foreigners who are working and staying in the capital illegally, as well as several high-profile cases involving foreigners misbehaving in public or committing criminal offences.
It is not the first time that African people have protested in Guangzhou. In July 2009, more than 100 Africans surrounded a police station after a Nigerian man died during an immigration raid. Reports said he jumped out of a second-floor shop window when police initiated unannounced passport checks.
The protesters took to the streets at 3pm yesterday and soon blocked a section of Guangyuan West Road in the city's Yuexiu district.
The area, near the Guangzhou railway station, is home to a major African business community.
Witnesses said bricks thrown by the protesters smashed the windows of police vehicles and passing private cars. Some held up a paper billboard reading 'Give us the dead body'.
'I heard an African say in Mandarin 'Bring my brother back to me',' said Zheng Jie, a Guangzhou resident who saw the protest.
'I saw many residents become angry and yell at the African protesters: 'Guangzhou doesn't welcome you. Go back home'.'
Guangzhou police confirmed the riot in a statement on their official microblog, saying the authorities had taken proper measures to stop the riot and the crowd had dispersed about 5.30pm.
They said the African had a fight with the driver about 1pm on Monday in Guangyuan West Road and that both had been taken to a local police station.
At 5pm the African was found in a coma and he died soon after at the station despite the efforts of ambulance staff.
Police said an autopsy was underway to determine the cause of death.
Xinhua reported that authorities were still trying to ascertain the victim's identity as his documents had been soaked in water.
Police warned foreigners living on the mainland to abide by local laws.
Additional reporting by Mimi Lau
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