After 4 Days Of Riots, France Weighs “All Options” To Quell Anger , More than 200 police officers have been injured since the violence began, said a French minister. The average age of the rioters is 17.
Several cities across France have witnessed sporadic violence and looting in the fourth straight night of protests after the police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel, who was shot dead on Tuesday during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
Here are 10 facts in this big story:
- French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said today that 270 people were arrested last night, taking the total number of arrests in connection with the violence to 1,100. Last night’s arrests included those of 80 people in France’s second-largest city of Marseille, news agency Reuters reported. Many of the protesters arrested were between 14 and 18 years old.
- Benoit Payan, the Mayor of Marseille, where three police officers were wounded today, urged the national government to immediately send additional troops. “The scenes of pillaging and violence are unacceptable,” he tweeted last night. A helicopter and armored personnel carriers were deployed in Lyon, France’s third-largest city.
- 45,000 officers backed by light armored vehicles have been deployed and crack police units and other security forces have fanned out across the country in an effort to curb the unrest. Mr. Darmanin was quoted by the news agency AFP as saying that last night’s violence had been of “much less intensity”. More than 200 police officers have been injured since the violence began, said the minister, adding that the average age of the rioters was 17.
- While the violence and looting were reported to be the worst in Marseille and Lyon, clashes between hooded protesters and police also occurred in parts of Grenoble and Saint-Etienne. Sporadic violence was also reported in the suburbs of Paris.
- French President Emmanuel Macron, who left a European Union summit early to attend a second cabinet crisis meeting in two days, urged parents to take responsibility for underage rioters. Denouncing the “unacceptable exploitation of a death of an adolescent” in some quarters, he vowed to work with social networks to curb “copycat violence” spread via services such as TikTok and Snapchat.
- “The time of violence must give way to that of mourning, dialogue, and reconstruction,” the French national football team said in a statement posted by captain and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe. Les Bleus said they were “shocked by the brutal death of young Nahel” but asked that violence give way to “other peaceful and constructive ways of expressing oneself”, AFP reported.
- Buses and trams, which had been targeted in violence on some of the other nights, stopped running at 9.00 pm yesterday and the sale of inflammable liquids and large fireworks has been banned. Asked about a possible state of emergency, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the government is “looking at all options”. Some ministers are, however, opposed to the step.
- In her first interview since Nahel’s death, his mother, Mounia, told France 5 television on Thursday: “I don’t blame the police, I blame one person: the one who took the life of my son.” She said the 38-year-old officer responsible, who has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, “saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life”.
- Nahel’s death has revived longstanding grievances about policing and racial profiling in France’s low-income and multi-ethnic suburbs. Mohamed Jakoubi, who watched Nahel grow up, said the rage was fuelled by a sense of injustice after incidents of police violence against minority ethnic communities, many from former French colonies.
- The UN rights office said yesterday that the killing of the teen of North African descent was “a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement”.A statement by the French foreign ministry, however, dismissed that charge as “totally unfounded”. Britain and other European countries have updated their travel advice and warned tourists to stay away from areas affected by the rioting.