France shooting: Calmer night despite protests over Nahel M’s murder, minister sayson July 2, 2023 at 6:43 am

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A total of 719 people were arrested as disturbances gripped Marseille and other cities with Paris quieter.

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Police and rioters have clashed in the French city of Marseille as the country battles with a fifth night of unrest after the death of a teenager shot by police at point-blank range.

Videos show police using tear gas, as officials say at least 56 arrests have been made in the southern city.

But a heavy police presence in central Paris seems to have deterred protests.

Large crowds turned out for the funeral of Nahel M, 17, who was killed as he drove away from a traffic stop.

Many French cities have descended into chaos since Tuesday after the killing happened in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

In a tweet, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin praised law enforcement for their “resolute action” which had led to a “calmer night”.

Around 45,000 police were deployed across the country for a second night on Saturday.

The ministry said that by 03:30 (01:30 GMT) there had been 486 arrests.

More than 1,300 arrests were made on Friday night and more than 900 on Thursday.

In Marseille, heavy clashes took place between police and rioters throughout Saturday evening.

In footage circulating online, police can be seen using tear gas against people in the city.

The video shows the clashes taking place on La Canebière, the main avenue in the heart of Marseille.

French media report that fighting has been taking place between a large group of rioters and officers in the area for more than an hour.

Paris

Image source, EPA

In Paris, large numbers of police were seen along the iconic Champs-Élysées.

There had been calls on social media for protesters to gather there but the police presence seems to have kept most of them away.

The capital’s police said they made 194 arrests. The Paris region stopped all buses and trams after 21:00 for a second night running.

French PM Elisabeth Borne reportedly attended the command room of the national police in Paris to observe efforts at maintaining order.

The mayor of the southern Paris suburb of L’Haÿ-les-Roses, Vincent Jeanbrun, said his wife and one of his children had been injured when fleeing an attacker who had rammed his house with a car and then set the car on fire.

In the northern city of Lille, police special forces were seen on the streets. Images from the city overnight showed firefighters extinguishing blazes in cars that had been set alight by rioters.

Twenty-one people were arrested in the city of Lyon. Clashes were also reported in Nice and Strasbourg.

Officials hope that a turning-point may have been reached – that rioters are losing energy thanks to the security crackdown and the massive unpopularity of their exactions.

However, until more nights of quiet confirm the trend, no-one is assuming anything.

Nahel’s funeral service was held at the mosque in Nanterre earlier on Saturday.

Supporters of the family told the news media to keep away. All filming – even on phones – was banned: “No Snapchat, no Insta,” mourners were told.

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Nahel was shot after refusing to stop for a traffic check and died after emergency services attended the scene. A video, shared online in the hours following Nahel’s death, showed two police officers trying to stop the vehicle and one pointing his weapon at the driver.

The officer who fired the fatal shot has since been charged with voluntary homicide and apologised to the family. His lawyer said he was devastated.

Nahel’s death has reignited debate around the state of French policing, including a controversial 2017 firearms law which allows officers to shoot when a driver ignores an order to stop.

More widely, it has led to questions of racism in the force. The UN’s human rights office said the unrest was a chance for France “to address deep issues of racism in law enforcement”.

President Emmanuel Macron condemned the violence on Friday “with the greatest firmness” and said Nahel’s death had been used to justify acts of violence – calling it an “unacceptable exploitation of the adolescent’s death”.

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