45K Cops, 1.3K Arrests Amid 4th Night of Violence

Rioting in France spurred by fatal police shooting of 17-year-old in the Paris suburb of Nanterre
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2023 6:00 AM CDT
45K Cops, 1.3K Arrests Amid 4th Night of Violence
An ambulance passes by a burning car in Nanterre, France, outside Paris, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Rioting raged in cities around France for a fourth night despite a huge police deployment and 1,311 arrests, with cars and buildings set ablaze and stores looted, as family and friends prepared Saturday to bury the 17-year-old whose killing by police unleashed the unrest. France's Interior Ministry announced the new figure for arrests around the country, where 45,000 police officers fanned out in a so-far unsuccessful bid to quell violence, per the AP. Despite an appeal to parents by President Emmanuel Macron to keep their children at home, street clashes between young protesters and police raged on. About 2,500 fires were set and stores were ransacked, according to authorities. The funeral ceremony for the teen, identified only as Nahel, who was killed by police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday, began on Saturday.

Family and friends were set to view the open coffin before it will be taken to a mosque for a ceremony and later burial in a town cemetery. As the number of arrests continued to mount, the government suggested the violence was beginning to lessen, thanks to tougher security measures. Still, the damage was widespread, from Paris to Marseille and Lyon and even far away, in the French territories overseas, where a 54-year-old died after being hit by a stray bullet in French Guiana. France's national soccer team—including international star Kylian Mbappe, an idol to many young people in the disadvantaged neighborhoods where the anger is rooted—pleaded for an end to the violence. "Many of us are from working-class neighborhoods; we, too, share this feeling of pain and sadness" over the killing of 17-year-old Nahel, the players said in a statement.

But "violence resolves nothing. ... There are other peaceful and constructive ways to express yourself." Anger erupted in the Paris suburb after Nahel's death Tuesday and quickly spread nationwide. The slaying of Nahel stirred up long-simmering tensions between police and young people in housing projects who struggle with poverty, unemployment, and racial discrimination. The subsequent rioting is the worst France has seen in years and puts new pressure on Macron, who blamed social media for fueling violence. Race was a taboo topic for decades in France, which is officially committed to a doctrine of colorblind universalism. In the wake of Nahel's killing, French anti-racism activists renewed complaints about police behavior. Thirteen people who didn't comply with traffic stops were fatally shot by French police last year.

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This year, another three people, including Nahel, died under similar circumstances. The deaths have prompted demands for more accountability in France, which also saw racial justice protests after George Floyd's killing by police in Minnesota. In the face of the escalating crisis, Macron held off on declaring a state of emergency, an option that was used in similar circumstances in 2005. Instead, his government ratcheted up its law enforcement response, with the mass deployment of police officers. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered a nationwide nighttime shutdown Friday of all public buses and trams, which have been among rioters' targets. He also said he warned social networks not to allow themselves to be used as channels for calls to violence.

(Read more France stories.)

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