France faces renewed unrest as outrage grows over police shooting
France has experienced a second consecutive night of unrest as masked protesters, donning balaclavas, set fire to debris and launched fireworks in violent clashes with security forces.
According to a report, the demonstrations were triggered by the fatal shooting of a teenager, Nahel M., by the police, reigniting a contentious debate over law enforcement tactics in France, particularly regarding the treatment of individuals in disadvantaged neighborhoods and ethnic minorities.
In response to the tragic incident, the mother of the 17-year-old victim called for a march on Thursday to honor her only child.
As night fell on Wednesday, the clashes expanded beyond the capital and spread to other cities including Toulouse, Dijon, and Lyon, the report says.
Approximately 2,000 riot police officers were deployed in Paris and its suburbs, resulting in 35 arrests by 2:00 am (0000 GMT) on Thursday.
The western Hauts-de-Seine region, where the shooting occurred, witnessed a second night of confrontations as masked protesters dressed in black launched fireworks and firecrackers at security forces.
The area was engulfed in thick smoke as multiple cars and garbage cans were set ablaze, while roads were blocked by barriers.
Graffiti demanding “justice for Nahel” and condemning the police were sprayed on the walls of a building.
In the 18th and 19th districts of northeastern Paris, where working-class communities reside, police resorted to firing flashballs to disperse protesters who were setting rubbish on fire.
Instead of dispersing, the crowd retaliated by throwing bottles.
Two young men, identifying themselves as the “Avengers,” expressed their frustration, stating that they were tired of being mistreated and asserting their solidarity with Nahel.
Incidents of violence were reported in various locations. In the Essonne region south of Paris, a group set a bus on fire after evacuating all passengers.
In Clamart, a tram was also set ablaze. Similar scenes unfolded in Toulouse, where several cars were torched, and responding police and firefighters were targeted with projectiles.
Authorities reported “comparable situations in Dijon and Lyon.”
At Fresnes, the second-largest prison complex in France, protesters attacked security at the entrance using fireworks, but the police quickly intervened.
Police sources revealed that “Seine-Saint-Denis witnessed the burning of multiple cars, looting of shops, attacks on police stations, and damage to town halls.”
Tensions flared in Roubaix, Amiens, and Nice as well. Authorities urgently appealed for calm to quell the escalating violence.
The Nanterre town hall urged an end to the “destructive spiral,” while the government, in an unusual move, criticized the security forces. President Emmanuel Macron, during an official visit to Marseille, described the killing of the teenager as “inexplicable and unforgivable.”
The victim, identified as Nahel M. from Nanterre, was pulled over by the police on Tuesday morning for a traffic violation while driving a yellow Mercedes.
Initially, the police claimed that an officer had fired at the teenager because he was driving towards him, but a video circulating on social media, authenticated by AFP, contradicted this account.
The footage shows two policemen standing by the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver. A voice is heard saying, “You are going to get a bullet in the head.” The police officer then appears to fire as the car abruptly drives off.
Nahel, a delivery driver who had dropped out of high school, was described by a 55-year-old woman who claimed to know him as “not a delinquent.”
Public figures, including Kylian Mbappe, captain of the French national football team and a star player at Paris Saint-Germain.