France Rocked By 4Th Night Of Unrest Following Teen'S Fatal Shooting 1
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France suffers a fourth night of unrest. Young rioters clash with police and loot stores in as riots escalate after deadly police shooting.

In a world that seems to be perpetually gripped by social and political unrest, France finds itself yet again at the center of a storm. The recent tragic incident involving the Nahel shooting has reignited tensions and exposed the deep-seated issues within French society. As we delve into the complexities of this event and the broader context surrounding it, it becomes apparent that a comprehensive understanding is vital to moving toward a more harmonious future.

The Nahel Shooting: A Catalyst for Chaos The unfortunate shooting of Nahel, a young man of Algerian descent, has set off a wave of protests and riots across France. As the details emerge, the incident reveals a disconcerting intersection of racial tensions, socioeconomic disparities, and a perceived lack of justice. It has further exacerbated the already strained relationship between law enforcement and marginalized communities, sparking a broader outcry against systemic discrimination and inequality.


A Fragmented Society: To fully comprehend the magnitude of the French crisis, it is crucial to acknowledge the fragmented nature of society. France, a nation priding itself on its commitment to liberty, equality, and fraternity, finds itself grappling with internal divisions. These divisions are driven by socioeconomic disparities, cultural clashes, and a lingering sense of alienation experienced by minority communities.


Young rioters clashed with police and looted stores during a fourth night of unrest in France. The violence was triggered by the deadly police shooting of a teenager, creating additional pressure on President Emmanuel Macron. Despite Macron’s appeal to parents to keep children off the streets and his attribution of the violence to social media, turmoil continued in several cities across the country.

Rioters have torched 2,000 vehicles since the start of the unrest.

Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti said 30% of detainees were under 18.

More than 700 shops, supermarkets, restaurants and bank branches had been “ransacked, looted and sometimes even burnt to the ground since Tuesday”, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

In Nanterre, the Parisian suburb where the shooting took place, firefighters worked to extinguish the fires set by protesters, leaving burnt car remnants scattered across the streets. In Colombes, a neighboring suburb, protesters turned over garbage bins to create makeshift barricades. Some looters broke into a gun shop and escaped with weapons, while a man was apprehended later with a hunting rifle, according to the police. In Marseille, a southern Mediterranean port city, officers arrested nearly 90 individuals as groups of protesters set cars ablaze and smashed store windows to pilfer merchandise.

In Lyon, an eastern city, buildings and businesses were vandalized. Approximately one-third of the roughly 30 arrests made in the city were related to theft, as reported by the police. Fires were reported in the streets after an unauthorized protest, which drew a crowd of over 1,000 people earlier in the evening.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated that by approximately 3 a.m., 471 arrests had been made during the night. The fatal shooting of the 17-year-old, identified only by his first name, Nahel, was recorded on video and reignited long-standing tensions between police and young people in disadvantaged neighborhoods and housing projects.

The burial of Nahel is scheduled for Saturday, according to Nanterre Mayor Patrick Jarry, who called for changes in disadvantaged neighborhoods to address the underlying issues.

Despite repeated government calls for calm and increased police presence, Friday witnessed brazen acts of violence during daylight hours. An Apple store was looted in the eastern city of Strasbourg, where police deployed tear gas. In a shopping mall near Paris, a fast-food outlet had its windows smashed, and officers prevented individuals from breaking into a closed store.


The violence also spread to some of France’s overseas territories. On the small Indian Ocean island of Reunion, protesters set garbage bins on fire, launched projectiles at the police, and damaged cars and buildings. As a result, approximately 150 police officers were deployed on Friday night. In French Guiana, a 54-year-old individual was killed by a stray bullet when rioters opened fire on the police in the capital, Cayenne.

Despite the escalating crisis, Macron refrained from declaring a state of emergency, which was employed in similar circumstances in 2005. Instead, the government increased its law enforcement response. The police forces, already significantly reinforced, were boosted by an additional 5,000 officers for Friday night, bringing the total to 45,000, as stated by the interior minister. Some officers were called back from their vacations. Minister Darmanin reported that 917 arrests were made on Thursday alone, highlighting the young age of those detained, with an average age of 17. Over 300 police officers and firefighters have been injured.

The number of injured protesters in the clashes remains uncertain. Minister Darmanin issued a nationwide nighttime shutdown order for all public buses and trams, as they have been targeted by rioters. He also warned social networks not to allow themselves to be exploited as channels for inciting violence. Darmanin stated that the social networks were cooperative, and the French authorities were sharing information with them to facilitate the identification of individuals inciting violence. He emphasized that anyone using social networks to commit violent acts would be pursued by law enforcement.

Macron also focused on social media platforms, which have disseminated dramatic images of vandalism, arson, and destruction. He claimed that Snapchat and TikTok were being used to organize unrest and encourage copycat violence. Macron announced that his government would collaborate with technology companies to establish protocols for removing sensitive content, and he expected a responsible approach from them.

Snapchat spokesperson Rachel Racusen stated that the company had increased its moderation efforts since Tuesday to detect and address content related to the riots.

The ongoing violence is concerning, as Paris and other French cities are less than a year away from hosting the summer Olympic Games, which will attract thousands of athletes and millions of visitors. Organizers are closely monitoring the situation while continuing with preparations for the Olympics.

The police officer involved in Nahel’s killing has been preliminarily charged with voluntary homicide, indicating that investigating magistrates have strong suspicions of wrongdoing but require further investigation before proceeding to trial. Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache stated that his initial inquiry led him to conclude that the officer’s use of his weapon was not legally justified.

According to the prosecutor, officers attempted to stop Nahel because he appeared underage and was driving a Mercedes with Polish license plates in a bus lane. Allegedly, he ran a red light in an attempt to evade the police and became trapped in traffic. The officer claimed that he feared he, his colleague, or someone else could be struck by the car as Nahel attempted to flee.

Nahel’s mother, identified as Mounia M., told France 5 television that she was angry at the officer but not at the police in general. “He saw a little Arab-looking kid, he wanted to take his life,” she said, adding that justice should be “very firm.”

“A police officer cannot take his gun and fire at our children, take our children’s lives,” she said.

While the use of firearms resulting in fatalities is less common in France, there were 13 fatal shootings by French police last year involving individuals who did not comply with traffic stops. This year, three more individuals, including Nahel, have died under similar circumstances. These incidents have prompted calls for increased accountability in France, especially in the wake of racial justice protests following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

Race has historically been a sensitive topic in France, which officially adheres to a doctrine of colorblind universalism. Following Nahel’s killing, anti-racism activists in France have renewed their criticism of police behavior in general.

The recent protests bear resemblance to the three weeks of rioting in 2005 that followed the deaths of 15-year-old Bouna Traoré and 17-year-old Zyed Benna. The two teenagers were electrocuted while hiding from the police in a power substation in Clichy-sous-Bois.

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