France police shooting: 40,000 officers on streets amid worst riots in 18 years

Violence breaks out in cities across France for third night

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Thousands of people, led by the mother of a French teenager killed by police during a traffic stop, protested in Paris on Thursday.

A police officer has been charged with voluntary homicide and held in custody in connection with the death of Nahel M, 17, who was shot in the chest in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday

His mother Mounia waved at the crowds from an open-top lorry, wearing a white T-shirt with the slogan “Justice for Nahel 27/06/23" and waving a heart shape.

“No justice, no peace,” the crowds chanted.

France has sent 40,000 officers on to the streets to quell violent protests sparked by the death of the teenager, as trouble spread beyond Paris’s suburbs for a third night.

In Nanterre, protesters torched cars, barricaded streets and hurled projectiles at police after a peaceful vigil.

Protesters scrawled "Vengeance for Nahel" across buildings and bus shelters, and as night set in a bank was set on fire before firemen put it out.

Local authorities in Clamart, 8km from central Paris, imposed a nighttime curfew until Monday.

Valerie Pecresse, who leads the greater Paris region, said all bus and tram services would be halted after 9pm after some vehicles were set alight the previous night.

National police said on Thursday night that officers faced new incidents in Marseille, Lyon, Pau, Toulouse and Lille, including fires and fireworks.

In Marseille, France's second city, police fired tear gas grenades during clashes with youths in the popular tourist spot Le Vieux Port, the city's main newspaper La Provence reported.

"The response of the state must be extremely firm," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said earlier in the northern town of Mons-en-Baroeul, where municipal buildings were set alight.

President Emmanuel Macron condemned earlier clashes, as he called France's worst riots in 18 years “wholly unjustifiable”.

Unrest breaks out for second night in France after police shoots teenager

Unrest breaks out for second night in France after police shoots teenager

“The last few hours have been marked by scenes of violence against police stations, but also schools and town halls, and thus institutions of the republic, and these scenes are wholly unjustifiable,” Mr Macron said, as he opened an emergency meeting to discuss the unrest.

He earlier described the fatal shooting as inexcusable but anger at the death showed no sign of abating.

Nahel's maternal grandmother told Sky News: “You know, Nahel, I will never forget him. He is my baby.

"The day he died he called me the day before and said, 'Granny, tomorrow I will come and do your shopping for you because I know you like fruit'.”

“I was at home when my daughter called me. She said, 'Mum, Nahel is dead'. I didn’t believe it at first with the shock.

"It was after when I saw my son. He was in front of me, lying. That’s all. I can’t speak.”

Some carried signs such as “Police kill”, “How many other Nahels were not filmed?” and “Our lives are in danger”.

Assa Traore, a well-known activist against police violence whose brother died after being arrested in 2016, told the rally: “The whole world must see that when we walk for Nahel, we walk for all those who were not filmed.”

About 150 people have been arrested across the country, with protests reported as far south as Toulouse.

Announcing police numbers would be more than quadrupled – from 9,000 officers to 40,000 – Mr Darmanin called the unrest “a night of intolerable violence against symbols of the republic”.

Writing on Twitter, he expressed support for the police and said, in an apparent swipe at the far left: “Shame on those who did not call for calm.”

Mr Darmanin was heading to the Seine-Saint-Denis department, just north of Paris, where a town hall was set on fire on Wednesday night.

“The professionals of disorder must go home,” he said.

There was no need yet to declare a state of emergency – a measure taken to quell weeks of rioting in 2005.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said 130 police officers were injured in the clashes.

“All this has to stop,” Mr Dupond-Moretti said.

He gave no details about the types and seriousness of the injuries.

Mr Darmanin, who oversees the police, later gave a higher figure of 170 injured. He said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The death of Nahel, reportedly of Algerian origin, has reignited public anger over police behaviour, particularly towards France's large ethnic minority population.

Police said he was shot in the chest after trying to drive at an officer, a claim contradicted by footage released of the incident.

In the video, a voice is heard to say, “You are going to get a bullet in the head”, before a police officer fires at Nahel, who tried to drive away from the scene.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran said it was important that the images posted online be used by investigating authorities.

Clashes first erupted on Tuesday night in and around Nanterre and the government sent 2,000 police on Wednesday to maintain order. But violence resumed that evening.

Footage on social media showed protesters firing fireworks at riot police.

In the central city of Lyon, 35 people were forced to relocate after fireworks set their apartment building ablaze, the fire service told AFP.

Updated: June 30, 2023, 5:00 AM