France police shooting: Hundreds arrested as riots spread after killing of teenager

Police officer apologises to family of dead boy as escalating violence runs into third night

France endures third night of riots after police shoot teenager

France endures third night of riots after police shoot teenager
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More than 650 people were arrested in France in the third night of violence sparked by the killing of a teenager by a policeman during a traffic check, the country's interior minister announced on Friday.

Thursday night was marked by pillaging of shops, reportedly including flagship branches of Nike and Zara in the heart of the capital.

Stores were also looted and windows smashed along the Rue de Rivoli shopping street, near the Louvre museum, and at the Forum des Halles, the largest shopping mall in central Paris, where a Nike shoe store was broken into.

Several Casino supermarkets were also looted across the country, according to reports.

But the trouble also spread far outside the capital, with a police station in the Pyrenees city of Pau hit with a Molotov cocktail, according to regional authorities, and an elementary school and a district office set on fire in Lille.

In the city centre of Marseille, a library was vandalised, according to local officials, and scuffles broke out nearby when police used tear gas to disperse a group of 100 to 150 people who allegedly tried to set up barricades.

In Nanterre, the epicentre of the unrest, tensions rose around midnight, with fireworks and explosives set off in the Pablo Picasso district, where Nahel M had lived.

In the area armoured police vehicles rammed through the burnt cars, while on the other side of Paris, protesters lit a fire at the city hall in the suburb of Clichy-Sous-Bois. There were also reports of looting.

"Last night, our police, gendarmes and firefighters again courageously confronted rare violence. In line with my firm instructions, they made 667 arrests," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote on Twitter.

The Elysee announced early on Friday that President Emmanuel Macron would cut short a trip to Brussels, where he was attending an EU summit, to chair a crisis meeting on the violence – the second such sit-down in as many days.

He was criticised earlier for attending an Elton John concert on the second night of riots.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Friday that the emergency cabinet meeting would review "all options" to restore order.

Asked by reporters if a state of emergency was a possibility, as some right-wing opposition parties have demanded, Ms Borne replied: "I won't tell you now, but we are looking at all options, with one priority: restoring order throughout the country".

On Friday, the transport authority said bus and tram service in the Paris region will stop at 9pm each evening until further notice.

The early shutdown was "for the safety of our workers and passengers", IDFM said following attacks on transport and public infrastructure during the violence.

'I blame one person'

In her first media interview since the shooting, Nahel's mother, Mounia, told the France 5 channel: "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 was detained and charged with voluntary manslaughter on Thursday, "saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life".

A memorial march for Nahel, led by his mother, ended with riot police firing tear gas as several cars were set alight in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teenager lived and was killed.

Tens of thousands of police officers have been deployed to quell the protests.

About 40,000 police and gendarmes – with elite Raid and GIGN units – were deployed in several cities overnight, with curfews issued in municipalities around Paris and bans on public gatherings in Lille and Tourcoing in the country's north.

Despite the huge security presence, violence and damage were reported in several areas. As of 3am on Friday, at least 421 people had been arrested across the country over the course of the night, according to Mr Darmanin's team.

"There aren't any very violent confrontations in direct contact with the police, but there are a number of vandalised stores, looted or even burnt businesses," a senior national police officer said.

The police officer accused of shooting the teenager on Tuesday was handed a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide after prosecutor Pascal Prache said his initial investigation led him to conclude “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met”.

The detained police officer’s lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, told French channel BFMTV the officer was sorry and "devastated".

The officer did what he thought was necessary in the moment, Mr Lienard said.

“He doesn’t get up in the morning to kill people,” he said of the officer, whose name has not been released.

“He really didn’t want to kill. But now he must defend himself, as he’s the one who’s detained and sleeping in prison.”

The teenager's death has revived longstanding grievances about policing and racial profiling in France's low-income and multiethnic suburbs.

On Friday, the UN said France must address deep issues of racist discrimination among its police.

"We are concerned by the killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by police in France... this is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement," UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a media briefing in Geneva.


Bus and tram services in the Paris area were shut down before sunset as a precaution to protect transport workers and passengers.

The town of Clamart, home to 54,000 people in the French capital’s south-western suburbs, said it was taking the extraordinary step of imposing an overnight curfew through Monday, citing “the risk of new public order disturbances”.

The mayor of Neuilly-sur-Marne announced a similar curfew in that town in the eastern suburbs.

The unrest extended even to Brussels, the Belgian capital and EU's administrative home, where about a dozen people were detained during scuffles related to the shooting in France.

The Belgian city's police spokeswoman Ilse van de Keere said several fires were brought under control and that at least one car was burnt out.

The shooting, captured on video, shocked France and stirred up long-simmering tension between police and young people in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

Updated: June 30, 2023, 11:42 AM