French President Emmanuel Macron met hundreds of French officials on Tuesday to begin exploring the “deeper causes” of unrest in the country after a teenager was killed at a traffic stop.
The Élysée held a meeting with some 250 mayors whose cities have been devastated by the week of violence, while authorities reported much calmer nights across the country.
“Is this a permanent return to calm? I would be cautious, but the peak we saw the other day has passed,” Macron said, according to one attendee.
“We all want a durable republican order,” he said. “It’s an absolute priority.”
The government has been battling unrest and looting since 17-year-old Nahel M. was killed by a police officer at a traffic station outside Paris on Tuesday, reigniting long-running criticism of security forces. Allegations of systemic racism.
Nighttime violence in French cities halved in 24 hours, with 72 nighttime arrests across the country, the Interior Ministry said.
They included 24 people arrested in and around Paris, where the unrest first broke out.
read moreTeen slaying raises questions as French police dare not name names
Dozens of buildings were damaged and four police or gendarmerie offices were attacked, the interior ministry said, but there were no casualties.
More than 150 vehicles were set ablaze and hundreds of dumpsters or other public areas were on fire.
Police mobilization across France was at 45,000, unchanged from the previous two nights.
Mayors across France held rallies on Monday calling for an end to the violence.
“hard long work”
The mayor of the Paris suburbs sparked widespread outrage after their home was crashed by a burning car and they called for a “restoration of republican order”.
In an overnight tweet after his meeting with police on Monday night, Macron thanked police, gendarmes and firefighters for their “extraordinary mobilization in recent nights”.
At the gathering of mayors, Macron wanted to “start the hard, long-term work of understanding the deeper causes of these events,” an official from the presidential office said.
Nearly 4,000 people have been arrested since Friday, including more than 1,200 minors, according to Justice Department figures.
Macron has floated the idea of quick fines for parents of children arrested for vandalism or robbery.
“For first-time crimes, we need to find a way to sanction the families financially and easily,” he said, according to Le Parisien.
Meanwhile, French businesses are counting the cost of seven nights of unrest that has left countless shops and other businesses damaged.
“They destroyed everything,” said Alexandre Manchon, who works in a tobacco shop in the southern city of Marseille, which has seen some of the worst looting.
“None of this is done by us, we are just workers who get up at five in the morning so we can feed our children and our families,” he told AFP.
Abdelhamid Faddeoui, who runs the private security company Aetos Securite Privee, said that while violence had declined, “everyone was worried that it might be a false calm”.
“Most of my clients maintain a high level of protection.”
Employers’ groups have called on the government to create an emergency fund “for those who have lost everything”.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday that the government may allow businesses amid the unrest to suspend tax and social security contributions while rebuilding takes place.
Meanwhile, police said they questioned a passenger in the car driven by Nahel M., who turned himself in, to learn more about the shooting.
The officer who shot dead Tuesday remains in custody and charged with homicide.
Far-right figure Jean Messiha has sparked outrage on the political left after an online fundraiser for the 38-year-old’s family has raised more than 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million).
“Killing a young Arab is worth it,” Manon Aubry, a European Parliament representative for the far-left LFI party, tweeted.
Prime Minister Elizabeth Born also expressed her disquiet at the move, saying it would “do nothing to calm the situation”.
Nearly 346,000 euros have been spent to support the Naher family.