France braced for fifth night of riots as family buries teenager | Inquirer News

France braced for fifth night of riots as family buries teenager

/ 06:24 AM July 02, 2023

People run followed by police officers during riots following the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer in Nanterre during a traffic stop, at Champs Elysees in Paris, France, July 1, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

People run followed by police officers during riots following the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer in Nanterre during a traffic stop, at Champs Elysees in Paris, France, July 1, 2023. (REUTERS)

PARIS  – Tens of thousands of police were deployed in cities across France on Saturday ready for a potential fifth night of rioting after the funeral of a teenager of North African descent, whose shooting by police sparked nationwide unrest.

President Emmanuel Macron postponed a state visit to Germany that was due to begin on Sunday to handle the worst crisis for his leadership since the “Yellow Vest” protests paralyzed much of France in late 2018.


Some 45,000 police would again be on the street into Saturday night, interior minister Gerald Darmanin said, with reinforcements going to Lyon and Marseille.


At 2345 (2145 GMT), while there was some tension in central Paris and sporadic clashes in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, the situation appeared calmer across the country.

Police deployed tear gas against rioters in Marseille’s main high street around dusk on Saturday. Television images showed there was violence, some pillaging and street battles between police and groups of youths going into the evening.

In Paris, police increased security at the city’s landmark Champs Elysees avenue after a call on social media to gather there. The street, usually packed with tourists, was lined with security forces carrying out spot checks. Shop facades were boarded up to prevent potential damage and pillaging.

The interior ministry said 1,311 people had been arrested on Friday night, compared with 875 the previous night, although it described the violence as “lower in intensity”. Police said about 120 people had been arrested nationwide on Saturday.

Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said more than 700 shops supermarkets, restaurants and bank branches had been “ransacked, looted and sometimes even burnt to the ground since Tuesday”.

Local authorities all over the country announced bans on demonstrations and ordered public transport to stop running in the evening.


Nahel, a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan parents, was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop on Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

For the funeral, several hundred people lined up to enter Nanterre’s grand mosque, which was guarded by volunteers in yellow vests, while a few dozen bystanders watched from across the street.

Some of the mourners, their arms crossed, said “God is Greatest” in Arabic, as they spanned the boulevard in prayer.

Marie, 60, said she had lived in Nanterre for 50 years and there had always been problems with the police.

“This absolutely needs to stop. The government is completely disconnected from our reality,” she said.

The shooting of the teenager, caught on video, has reignited longstanding complaints by poor and racially mixed urban communities of police violence and racism.

“If you have the wrong skin colour, the police are much more dangerous to you,” said a young man, who declined to be named, adding that he was a friend of Nahel’s.

Nahel was known to police for previously failing to comply with traffic stop orders and was illegally driving a rental car, the Nanterre prosecutor said on Thursday.

Macron has denied there is systemic racism in French law enforcement agencies.


Rioters have torched 2,000 vehicles since the start of the unrest. More than 200 police officers have been injured, Darmanin said, adding that the average age of those arrested was 17.

Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti said 30% of detainees were under 18.

In Marseille, where 80 people had been arrested on Friday, police said they had detained 37 people more as they tried to disperse crowds.

“It’s very scary. We can hear a helicopter and are just not going out because it’s very worrying especially on the Old Port,” said Tatiana, 79, a pensioner who lives in the city centre.

Mayor Benoit Payan called on the government to send extra troops to tackle “pillaging and violence” in Marseille, where three police officers were slightly wounded on Saturday.

In Lyon, France’s third largest city, police deployed armoured personnel carriers and a helicopter.

A decree issued on Saturday gave Paris police the right to deploy drones in parts of the suburbs.

The unrest has revived memories of nationwide riots in 2005 that forced then President Jacques Chirac to declare a state of emergency, after the death of two young men electrocuted in a power substation as they hid from police.

Players from the national soccer team issued a rare statement calling for calm. “Violence must stop to leave way for mourning, dialogue and reconstruction,” they said on star Kylian Mbappe’s Instagram account.

The South Winners supporters group, an influential fan group for Olympique de Marseille, called on the city’s youth to “be wise and show restraint”.

“By acting in this way you are dirtying Nahel’s memory and are also dividing our city.”

Events including two concerts at the Stade de France on the outskirts of Paris were cancelled, while LVMH-owned fashion house Celine cancelled its 2024 menswear show on Sunday, creative director Hedi Slimane said on Instagram.

Tour de France organisers said they were ready to adapt to any situation when the cycle race enters the country on Monday from Spain.

With the government urging social media companies to remove inflammatory material, Darmanin met officials from Meta, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok. Snapchat said it had zero tolerance for content that promoted violence.

The policeman whom prosecutors say acknowledged firing a lethal shot at Nahel is in preventive custody under formal investigation for voluntary homicide, equivalent to being charged under Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

His lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, said his client had aimed at the driver’s leg but was bumped when the car took off, causing him to shoot towards his chest. “Obviously (the officer) didn’t want to kill the driver,” Lienard said on BFM TV.

TAGS: France, Macron, Riot, Shooting

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.