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Third Night of Protests Over Teen’s Killing Results in 600 Arrests, 200 Injured Police Officers in France

by Michael Nguyen
5 comments
France Protests

As tensions escalate over the police-involved shooting of a 17-year-old teenager, French streets became a battleground of barricades, fires, and fireworks. The protests have led to the arrest of over 600 individuals, while injuring at least 200 police officers. The government is grappling to restore order on the third consecutive night of disturbances.

Armored police units penetrated the burnt wreckage of overturned and burnt cars in Nanterre, a northwestern Paris suburb, the place where the teen known only as Nahel was fatally shot by a police officer. Simultaneously, demonstrators started a fire at the city hall of Clichy-sous-Bois and set a bus depot on fire in Aubervilliers. Fires were also reported throughout the French capital with several stores vandalized.

Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, police were engaged in dispersing violent crowds in the city center.

President Emmanuel Macron has planned to cut short his presence at an EU summit in Brussels and return to Paris for an emergency security meeting on Friday.

The protests were confronted by approximately 40,000 police officers, resulting in 667 detentions according to the Interior Minister, with 307 of those being in Paris alone.

Around 200 officers have suffered injuries, as reported by a national police spokesperson. However, no data is available about civilian injuries.

Schools, town halls, and police stations were the targets of arsonists, while riot control tactics such as tear gas, water cannons, and dispersion grenades were used by police.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described the night as one of “rare violence” and highlighted that the arrests were a marked increase from previous operations, signifying an increased government firmness with the protesters.

Despite the unrest, the government refrained from declaring a state of emergency, a measure previously employed to quell weeks of riots following the accidental death of two boys fleeing police in 2005.

The officer involved in the shooting faces preliminary charges of voluntary homicide, based on the early findings from prosecutor Pascal Prache indicating that the legal conditions for firearm use were not met.

The officer’s attorney, appearing on French TV, relayed the officer’s remorse and devastation, asserting that the officer believed his actions were necessary.

Despite the teenager’s family and lawyers not asserting that the shooting was race-related, anti-racism activists renewed their criticisms of police conduct.

Thursday saw peaceful protests in Nanterre, which later escalated into confrontations, with smoke from burning cars and waste bins filling the air.

The unrest spread to other areas, leading to transport disruptions and imposition of overnight curfews in certain towns. The turmoil also reached Brussels, where several arrests and fires were reported in connection with the French shooting.

Nanterre’s prosecutor Prache explained that officers attempted to stop Nahel due to his young appearance and driving a Mercedes with Polish license plates in a bus lane, leading to the tragic incident.

The incident has reignited memories of 2005, when the deaths of two teenagers hiding from police led to three weeks of riots, exposing resentment and anger in neglected housing estates. The frequency of police-involved shootings is lower in France compared to the United States, however, demands for police accountability have increased over the past few years.

The police reported 13 fatalities last year due to non-compliance with traffic stops, while three such deaths, including Nahel’s, have occurred this year.

Corbet and Leicester reported from Paris. Contributions to this report came from Jeffrey Schaeffer and Aurelien Morissard in Nanterre; Raf Casert in Brussels, Claire Rush in Portland, Oregon, and Angela Charlton in Paris.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about France Protests

What was the cause of the protests in France?

The protests in France were sparked by the police-involved shooting of a 17-year-old teenager, known only as Nahel, which led to growing tensions and unrest in the nation.

How many people were arrested and how many police officers were injured during the third night of protests?

During the third night of protests, over 600 people were arrested and at least 200 police officers were injured as the government struggled to restore order.

What charges has the police officer involved in the shooting faced?

The police officer accused of the shooting has been handed a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide, based on the early findings from prosecutor Pascal Prache indicating that the legal conditions for firearm use were not met.

How has the French government responded to the protests?

The French government has refrained from declaring a state of emergency, a measure previously employed to quell weeks of riots. However, the Interior Minister described the night as one of “rare violence” and highlighted that the arrests were a marked increase from previous operations, signifying an increased government firmness with the protesters.

Has the unrest remained localized or has it spread?

The unrest has not remained localized. Besides Paris, the turmoil also reached the usually tranquil town of Pau in southwestern France and even extended as far as Brussels, where several arrests and fires were reported in connection with the French shooting.

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5 comments

Mike_D June 30, 2023 - 9:50 am

Woah, things are really heating up over there, isn’t it? it’s tragic what happened to the kid, hope the situation cools down soon.

Reply
Liz_T June 30, 2023 - 1:45 pm

This is heart-breaking! These youngsters don’t deserve such an end. Justice needs to prevail. But the violence is just escalating things further.

Reply
Fred_G July 1, 2023 - 3:13 am

Shocking to see how bad things can get in such a short time… Praying for everyone’s safety over there.

Reply
Arjun_p92 July 1, 2023 - 5:02 am

Why’s it always seem like history’s repeating itself? We’ve seen similar scenes back in 2005. When are we gonna learn?

Reply
SophiaL July 1, 2023 - 7:51 am

It’s so sad to hear about such violence and unrest. My thoughts are with all those affected. Can’t believe how bad it’s gotten…

Reply

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