Riots in France Subsiding as Protests Against Shooting of Nahel M Eases

By | July 3, 2023

Riots in France have shown signs of calming down after a tumultuous five-day period of violent protests that erupted following the shooting of teenager Nahel M during a police traffic stop.

Subdued Violence and Reduced Arrests on Sunday Night

Sunday night witnessed a significant decrease in violence, with fewer arrests made as compared to previous nights.

President Emmanuel Macron’s Request for Increased Police Presence

Nevertheless, President Emmanuel Macron has urged the interior ministry to maintain a “massive” police presence on the streets.

Mayors Call for Peaceful Rallies Outside Town Halls

On Monday, mayors called for peaceful rallies outside town halls to protest against the violence and looting.

Acknowledging the Situation and the Pursuit of Justice

Mayor Patrick Jarry of Nanterre, Nahel’s hometown, expressed satisfaction with the decreased violence but emphasized the importance of not losing sight of the incident that triggered these events and the ongoing need for justice.

Looting of Familiar Businesses by Rioters

Addressing a crowd of several hundred people in Reims, a city just over two hours away from Paris, the mayor stated that the rioters had targeted and looted the businesses they frequented daily.

Caution in Declaring a Return to Normalcy

While Sunday night experienced relative calm, authorities exercised caution in prematurely declaring a complete return to normalcy on Monday.

Paris Region Public Transportation to be Temporarily Halted

Buses and trams in the Paris region will be temporarily halted early on Monday night, and President Macron has called for a “massive” police presence throughout France to ensure a “return to calm.”

France’s Banlieues Rekindling: The Plight Continues

Who was Nahel M, the victim of the police shooting in Nanterre?

Deployment of Over 45,000 Officers

Over the past three nights, approximately 45,000 officers have been deployed across the country.

Decrease in Arrests and Incidents

On Sunday night, more than 150 people were arrested, a significant decrease from over 700 the previous night. Additionally, there were 297 cars set on fire compared to Thursday’s count of 1,900. The number of damaged or set ablaze buildings reduced to 34 from Thursday’s count of over 500.

Unrest Targeting Republican Symbols

An association of the country’s mayors highlighted in a press release that “communes everywhere in France are the scene of serious unrest, which targets republican symbols with extreme violence.”

Violence Escalates: Attack on Mayor’s Home

In one act of violence, the home of a suburban Paris mayor was attacked, and rioters fired rockets at his fleeing wife and children, resulting in his wife sustaining a broken leg and one of the children getting injured. The incident is being treated as attempted murder.

Appeal to End the Violence

Over the weekend, Nahel’s family, the teenager who lost his life due to the police shooting, called for an end to the violence. Nahel’s grandmother accused the rioters of exploiting Nahel’s death as an excuse and implored them to cease the destruction of public property.

Demand for Changes in the Use of Lethal Force

A relative of Nahel informed the BBC that the family does not want his death to incite riots but emphasized the necessity for changes in the law regarding lethal force during traffic stops.

Controversy Surrounding GoFundMe Page

The family expressed distress regarding a GoFundMe page for the police officer who shot Nahel, which has raised over €1m (£859,963) through more than 50,000 donations as of Monday. The fundraiser, initiated by a far-right media commentator, has faced criticism from several politicians. However, the platform stated to French newspaper Le Parisien that the terms and conditions of GoFundMe were not violated since the funds are intended for the officer’s family and not for supporting the legal defense of an alleged violent crime.

Meeting Between President Macron and Affected Mayors

On Tuesday, President Macron will hold a meeting with the mayors of 220 municipal areas affected by the violence.

Firefighter’s Death Investigated

According to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, a 24-year-old firefighter lost his life while attempting to extinguish several cars set ablaze in an underground car park in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris. The Paris fire brigade spokesperson clarified that there is currently no formal link between this incident and the broader violence in France, but the interior ministry has initiated an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the fire.

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