Police clash with rioters as unrest continues for fifth night
Children as young as 12 or 13 have been detained for attacking law enforcement and setting fires during six nights of violence after the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk in suburban Paris.
The average age of the 3,354 people arrested over the past week was 17, the interior minister Gerald Darmanin said.
In all, 99 town halls have been attacked during the unrest, including an attempt to ram a burning vehicle into the home of l’Hay-les-Les Roses mayor Vincent Jeanbrun. His wife and one of his young children were injured during the attack, which began at the weekend while they slept.
“We saw the real face of the rioters, that of assassins,” Mr Jeanbrun said in an emotional speech. France and “democracy itself” were being attacked in the days of rioting, he said.
Meanwhile, an “insulting” fundraiser set up for the family of the police officer who shot Nahel has amassed more than €1 million (£840,000).
Organised by Jean Messiha, a former adviser to the French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, the appeal has raised far more than the donation page set up for the family of the teenage victim.
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‘We all want justice for Nahel’, says Nanterre mayor
The anger from the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nahel in suburban Paris has descended into attacks against symbols of the state, widespread arson and nighttime looting.
The interior minister said during a visit to a town in central France that he’s been proven right to put 45,000 police on the streets in recent nights — and did so again Monday night. But he added that police “can’t educate children in the place of their parents.”
President Emmanuel Macron is set to meet with 220 mayors later on Tuesday, after the protests spread from Paris to impact towns and cities across France.
Nanterre mayor Patrick Jarry said: “We know all too well that this violence penalises first and foremost the children, the people and the families of our neighbourhoods and all of the residents of our city.
“We want justice to be done for Nahel and for the appeal by the family and notably by his grandmother for an end to the violence and destruction to be heard and respected.”
Namita Singh4 July 2023 05:35
Children as young as 12 detained
Children as young as 12 have been detained for attacking police and setting fires, said interior minister Gerald Darmanin.
In the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where a fire also struck the town hall, residents over the weekend said anger had simmered for years and many said the government had done little to help them.
“Young people are afraid to die by the hands of police. They are hopeless. They are bored and they need something to distract them so they don’t hang out in the streets,” said Samba Seck, 39.
Namita Singh4 July 2023 05:15
Macron meets mayors of 220 towns hit by violence
President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday was meeting with mayors of 220 towns from across the country which were hit by violence.
Across France, 34 buildings — many of them linked to the government — were attacked from Sunday into Monday, along with 297 vehicles.
Mr Macron last week blamed social media for the spread of the unrest and called on parents to take responsibility for their teenagers.
Justice minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told France Inter radio that parents who abdicated that responsibility, “either through disinterest or deliberately,” would be prosecuted.
The anger has descended into attacks against symbols of the state, widespread arson and nighttime looting. The interior minister said during a visit to a town in central France that he’s been proven right to put 45,000 police on the streets in recent nights — and did so again Monday night. But he added that police “can’t educate children in the place of their parents.”
Namita Singh4 July 2023 04:55
At least 3,354 people arrested in France
The average age of the 3,354 people arrested over the past week was 17, the interior minister said. But the problem of discrimination strikes all ages, according to Ahmed Djamai, a 58-year-old born in Nanterre who attended a solidarity gathering Monday at the town hall.
Mr Djamai said police stopped him not long ago and demanded a residence permit, even though he neither has nor needs one as a French citizen. He said the problem won’t go away even as the violence subsides.
“Our second, third and fourth-generation children face the same problem when they go out to get a job, when they go to prestigious universities,” he said.
“They’re not accepted. So even now, the problem is social, but it’s also one of identity. It goes much deeper than that.”
Namita Singh4 July 2023 04:35
Crowds across France show solidarity at town halls targeted in rioting following police shooting
Crowds gathered at town halls across France on Monday to show solidarity with local governments targeted in six nights of violence touched off by the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old in suburban Paris.
The unrest, which appeared to be easing on Sunday night, was driven by a mainly teenage backlash in the suburbs and urban housing projects against a French state that many young people with immigrant roots say routinely discriminates against them.
In all, 99 town halls have been attacked in the violence, the Interior Ministry said, including a weekend attempt to ram the home of one mayor and apparently set it afire.
In the municipality of l’Hay-les-Les Roses in the southern suburbs of Paris, hundreds of people gathered on Monday to support mayor Vincent Jeanbrun, whose wife and one of his young children were injured when a car set afire by rioters rammed into his home early on Sunday while they slept.
The authorities said it would be prosecuted as an attempted homicide. The incident prompted an outpouring of support for local governments in many towns where the city hall is often literally central to public life.
“We saw the real face of the rioters, that of assassins,” Mr Jeanbrun said in an emotional speech. France and “democracy itself” were being attacked in days of rioting.
“This won’t last last,” the mayor said, adding that the “silent majority” is speaking out to say “Stop. This is enough!” The crowd responded with the chant “Enough!”
Namita Singh4 July 2023 04:15
Why did the riots unfold in France?
Nahel Merzouk’s death has fed longstanding complaints of police violence and systemic racism inside law enforcement agencies from rights groups and within the low-income, racially mixed suburbs that ring major cities in France. Authorities deny that.
Even though the police officer involved is under investigation for voluntary homicide and President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the shooting, public anger has spilled onto streets across France. Police made 180 arrests during a second night of unrest into Thursday. Some 40,000 officers were deployed to curb the trouble, 5,000 in the Paris region.
The killing was the third fatal shooting during traffic stops in France so far in 2023, down from a record 13 last year. The majority of victims of such shootings since 2017 were Black or of Arab origin.
Martha Mchardy4 July 2023 03:30
Watch: Rioters ram car into French mayor’s house while family sleep
Rioters ram car into French mayor’s house while family sleep
Martha Mchardy4 July 2023 02:00
Is it safe to travel in France?
As of July 3 the UK government advises only that Britons in France “avoid areas where riots are taking place, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities.” It does not warn against visiting any specific towns or cities.
The latest alert from the U.S. embassy in Paris related to the rioting was posted on June 29, with the advice that “U.S. citizens should avoid mass gatherings and areas of significant police activity”. It also did not warn against visiting any specific places.
Martha Mchardy4 July 2023 00:30
What happened at the traffic stop?
Local prosecutor Pasca Prache said police spotted a Mercedes driving in a bus lane at 7:55 a.m. in the district of Nanterre on the western outskirts of Paris. Police attempted to pull him over at a red light using sirens and lights, the prosecutor added.
But Nahel disobeyed and committed several traffic offences, endangering the lives of a pedestrian and a cyclist.
The officers caught up with the Mercedes in a traffic jam. Both officers at one point used guns to deter him from starting off again and asked him to turn off the ignition, the prosecutor said. When the car made to get away, one officer fired at close range through the driver’s window.
Martha Mchardy3 July 2023 23:30
What has been the response from the government to the riots?
President Emmanuel Macron held a crisis meeting with senior ministers over the shooting on Friday morning – the second in two days.
The French government has so far stopped short of declaring a state of emergency — a measure taken to quell weeks of rioting around France that followed the accidental death of two boys fleeing police in 2005.
Mr Darmanin said the Interior Ministry had issued instructions for the complete shutdown of all public bus and tram services before sunset on Friday.
Concerts at the national stadium and smaller events around the country were cancelled because of the violence and some neighbourhoods suffered serious damage. Among the cancelled events were concerts at the Stade de France by singer-songwriter Mylene Farmer, scheduled for Friday and Saturday night.
In the southern city of Marseille, France’s second-largest, authorities banned public demonstrations set for Friday, and encouraged restaurants to close outdoor eating areas early. They said all public transport would stop at 7pm.
Mr Darmanin also ordered a ban on the sale and carrying of powerful fireworks, which rioters have launched at police officers and buildings, as well as on the sale of canisters of gasoline, acids and other chemicals and flammable liquids, the ministry said.
On Saturday, Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti warned that young people who share calls for violence on Snapchat or other apps could face prosecution. Macron has blamed social media for fueling violence.
The crisis has posed a new challenge to Macron’s leadership and exposed deep-seated discontent in low-income neighbourhoods over discrimination and lack of opportunity.
The unrest has taken a toll on Macron’s diplomatic standing. On Saturday, a day before he was scheduled to depart, he postponed what would have been the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 23 years.
Following the attack on Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun’s home, Macron planned to hold a special security meeting Sunday evening with Borne, Darmanin and the justice minister.
Martha Mchardy3 July 2023 22:30