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French Police Detain Hundreds of People Rioting

French Police Detain Hundreds of People Rioting

As police reinforced flashpoint locations around the nation, the French government announced Sunday that hundreds more people had been detained in a fifth night of rioting precipitated by the police shooting of a 17-year-old.

Since an officer shot Nahel M. point blank as he tried to elude a traffic stop on Tuesday, protesters, largely young people, have set cars on fire, trashed property, and fought with police in a fit of wrath.

The murder was caught on camera, and as it circulated on social media and fuelled outrage about police brutality against minorities, it revealed the extreme racial tensions in France.

The interior ministry reported that police had made 719 arrests overnight, still a tentative figure following approximately 1,300 the night before, the day after Nahel was laid to rest in his hometown outside Paris.

According to the report, 871 fires were started in streets and other public areas, 577 automobiles were burned, 74 buildings were set on fire, and 45 police officers or gendarmes were hurt.

Police still documented a number of instances even if national statistics suggested a general drop in tension across the nation.

Disgrace and Horror

The mayor of a town south of Paris claimed that rioters set fire to his house and slammed a car into it, wounding his wife and one of his children.

The mayor, Vincent Jeanbrun, declared that “last night the horror and disgrace reached a new level,” and prosecutors indicated they were looking into the incident for possible attempted murder.

The same number of police officers (45,000) as the previous night were on the streets of France, and backup officers were sent to hotspots like Lyon, Grenoble, and Marseille.

Following appeals on social media to bring rioting to the center of the city, 7,000 of the total were centered on Paris and its suburbs, particularly along tourist hotspot the Champs Elysees boulevard in downtown Paris.

According to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, the heavy police presence had assisted in containing the violence.

“A calmer night thanks to the resolute action of the security forces,” he tweeted early on Sunday.

Police dispersed groups of youngsters Saturday night at Canebiere, the major boulevard cutting through the center of Marseille, which has experienced violent fights and looting, according to AFP journalists.

Many towns have established overnight curfews.

For President Emmanuel Macron, who had hoped to continue with his second term after quelling months of unrest that broke out in January over hiking the pension age, the protests pose a fresh challenge.

He postponed a Sunday-starting state visit to Germany as a sign of the seriousness of the situation.


Hundreds quietly gathered for Nahel’s funeral service on Saturday in Nanterre, where he resided, together with his mother and grandmother.

According to a witness who spoke to AFP, the event was marked by “reflection” and went off “without incidents.”

In an effort to curtail the growing violence, France has banned the sale of huge fireworks and combustible substances and has halted operating buses and trams after 9:00 o’clock at night.

At 6:00 p.m., all urban transportation in Marseille was suspended.

One-third of the rioters were “young or very young,” according to Macron, who encouraged parents to take responsibility for their children.

Darmanin stated that the average age of those detained was only 17, whereas Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti stated on Saturday that 30% of those detained were juveniles.

With France hosting the Rugby World Cup in the fall and the Paris Olympic Games in the summer of 2024, the upheaval has sparked fears abroad.

Britain and other European nations amended its travel advise to caution visitors to avoid the riot-affected areas.

In a similar vein, the Chinese consulate in Marseille advised its people to “be vigilant and exercise caution” after state-run media reported that a bus carrying Chinese tourists had been stoned in the southern city.

With singer Mylene Farmer canceling stadium shows and French fashion brand Celine postponing its Paris menswear presentation, culture and entertainment have been interrupted.

In connection with Nahel’s killing, a 38-year-old police officer has been charged with willful homicide and detained in jail.

The assassination of the teenager of North African heritage, according to the UN rights office, is “an opportunity for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement.”

Any claims of institutionalized prejudice in the police force were deemed “totally unfounded” by the French.

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