French riots spread in third night of unrest over police shooting

NANTERRE: France sees unrest spreading to major cities in third night of riots on Thursday as President Emmanuel Macron fought to stem the growing crisis caused by the fatal shooting of an Algerian and Moroccan teenager by police while stopping in traffic.
Forty thousand police have been deployed across France – nearly four times the number mobilized on Wednesday – but there is little sign that the government’s call to de-escalate the violence will quell the spreading anger.
In Nanterre, the working-class town on the western outskirts of Paris where 17-year-old Nahel M. was shot dead on Tuesday, protesters set fire to cars, barricades and hurled bullets at police after. peaceful prayer.
Protesters scribble”Vengeance for Nahel” penetrated the buildings and as night fell, a bank burned before firefighters extinguished the blaze and an elite police unit deployed an armored vehicle.
In central Paris, a Nike shoe store was broken into, 14 people arrested and 16 others arrested with stolen items after the store’s window along the Rue de Rivoli shopping street was smashed. , said the Paris police.
The national police said on Thursday night that officers faced new incidents in Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse and Lille, including fires and fireworks.
Videos on social media showed multiple fires across the country, including at a bus stop in the northern suburbs of Paris and a tram in the eastern city of Lyon.
In Marseille, France’s second city, police fired tear gas grenades during clashes with youths at the tourist hotspot Le Vieux Port, La Provence’s main newspaper reported.
The incident has sparked longstanding complaints about police violence and systemic racism in law enforcement agencies from rights groups and in low-income, mixed-use suburbs. racial fusion around major cities in France.
The local prosecutor said the officer involved has been formally investigated for attempted murder and will be held in prison.
Under the French legal system, being formally investigated is the same as being charged in Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions.
“The prosecutor considers that the legal conditions for the use of firearms have not been met,” Pascal Prache, the prosecutor, told a news conference.
single bullet
The teen was shot during rush hour Tuesday morning. Initially, he was unable to stop after the Mercedes AMG he was driving was spotted in the bus lane. Two policemen caught up with the car in a traffic jam.
As the vehicle tried to move away, an officer shot at close range through the driver’s window. Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache said Nahel died from a bullet that went through his left arm and chest.
The officer admitted to firing a fatal shot, the prosecutor said, telling investigators he wanted to stop a car chase, fearing he or someone else would be injured. after the teen was accused of a traffic violation.
The officer’s lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, said his client had asked the victim’s family to forgive him. He said the officer aimed for the driver’s leg but collided, prompting him to shoot himself in the chest.
“He had to be stopped, but obviously (the police) didn’t want to kill the driver,” Lienard told BFM TV, adding that his client’s detention was used to try to calm him down. the rioters.
Mr Prache said Nahel was known to the police because he had previously failed to comply with a traffic stop order.
Macron on Wednesday said the shooting was unforgivable. In convening an emergency meeting, he also condemned the unrest.
vigil march
At a march in Nanterre in memory of Nahel, participants criticized what they saw as a culture of disregard for the police and the failure to reform law enforcement in a country that has experienced a wave of violence. riot and protest against police behavior.
Thousands of people gathered on the street. Sitting in a flatbed truck, the teenager’s mother waved to the crowd wearing a white T-shirt that read “Justice for Nahel” and the date of his death.
“I have nothing against the police. I have something against the person who killed my son. He didn’t have to kill my son,” Nahel’s mother told France 5 broadcaster after the incident. march.
The unrest revived memories of the 2005 riots that rocked France for three weeks and forced then-president Jacques Chirac to declare a state of emergency.
That wave of violence broke out in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois and spread across the country after the deaths of two young men who were electrocuted in a substation as they evaded the police.
Two officers were acquitted in a trial 10 years later.
A spokesman for the national police said Tuesday’s killing was the third fatal shooting while stopping traffic in France until 2023, down from a record 13 last year.
According to a Reuters tally, there are three such homicides in 2021 and two in 2020, suggesting that the majority of victims since 2017 have been Black or Arab.
Karima Khatim, a local councilor in Blanc Mesnil, northeast of Paris, said residents’ patience was running out.
“We have experienced this injustice many times before,” she said.


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