Key events from the third night of violence in France

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a new crisis ministerial meeting on Friday after a third straight night of nationwide protests sparked by the police shooting of a teenager, with cars burned, shops looted and hundreds of people arrested.

A march honoring 17-year-old Nahel sparked a night of unrest on Thursday. Naher’s death has reignited long-standing discontent with policing and racial profiling in France’s low-income and ethnically diverse suburbs.

The Elysee Palace announced that Macron would cut short a trip to Brussels to host a crisis meeting on the violence.It was the second such emergency meeting in as many days.

About 40,000 police and gendarmerieand Elite Raid and GIGN unitsSeveral cities went on alert overnight, with cities around Paris imposing curfews and Lille and Tourcoing in the north of the country banning public gatherings.

Violence and vandalism continued in several areas despite massive security measures.

A total of 875 people were arrested in what Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin called a night of “rarely violent incidents,” the interior ministry said. Some 249 police officers were injured and no one was injured, the ministry announced.

Police sources said that instead of violent fighting between protesters and police that night, stores were looted, reportedly including the flagship stores of Nike and Zara in Paris.

On June 30, 2023, in the Westfield Forum des Halles shopping center in Paris, protesters clashed with the police and the Nike store was vandalized. © Lucien Libert, Reuters

Public buildings were also targeted, with a police station in the Pyrenees city of Pau being firebombed and a primary school and a district office in Lille set on fire, according to regional authorities.

night of protest

Nights of protests in France have been rocked since Naher was shot at close range on video in a traffic stop on Tuesday.

“I don’t blame the police, I only blame one person: the man who took my son’s life,” Naher’s mother Munia told France 5 in her first media interview since the shooting.

The 38-year-old hit-and-run officer, who was detained Thursday and charged with manslaughter, “saw an Arab face, a small child and wanted to end his life,” she said.

The march to commemorate Naher, led by Munia, ended with tear gas fired by riot police, setting ablaze several cars in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teen lived and was killed.

read moreClashes erupt after march mourning teen shot dead in Paris suburb

Paris bus and tram services were stopped after 9:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Thursday as part of measures to restore calm, the regional chairman said.

But those measures and heightened security appeared to do nothing to stop the riots on Thursday night.

In central Marseille, a library was vandalized and scuffles broke out nearby as police used tear gas to disperse 100 to 150 people who said they were trying to set up a barricade, according to local officials.

Several public buildings in the Seine-Saint-Denis department in the Paris metropolitan area were also targeted, according to police sources.

On the outskirts of Delancey, rioters used a truck to force open the entrance to a shopping center before parts of it were looted and set ablaze, police sources said.

Meanwhile, firefighters in the northern city of Roubaix raced through the night to blazes that also caught fire at a hotel near the train station, sending more than a dozen residents fleeing into the street.

Firefighters extinguish a burning building during protests in Roubaix, northern France, June 30, 2023.
Firefighters extinguish a burning building during protests in Roubaix, northern France, June 30, 2023. © Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP

In Nanterre, the center of the unrest, tensions rose around midnight when fireworks and explosives were set off in the Pablo Picasso district where Naher lives, AFP reporters reported.

The government is desperate to avoid a repeat of the 2005 city riots, sparked by the deaths of two African-American boys in a police pursuit that saw 6,000 arrests.

Macron called for calm and said the protest violence was “unjustified”.

The unrest is a new challenge for the president, who has been seeking to shake off some of the largest demonstrations in a generation sparked by a controversial raise in the retirement age.

Video contradicts police claims

Naher was killed while fleeing from police officers who tried to stop him for a traffic violation.

A video confirmed by AFP showed two police officers standing next to the stationary car, with one pointing a weapon at the driver.

A voice was heard saying, “Your head is going to be shot.”

Police appeared to fire when the car pulled away abruptly.

After the video was exposed, the conflict broke out first. The video contradicts police claims that the teen was driving towards officers.

The officer’s lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, told BFMTV on Thursday night that his client had apologized while in custody.

“The first thing he said was an apology and the last thing he said was an apology to the family,” Lienard said.

Earlier on Thursday, Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prasch said: “The prosecution believes that the police officer who opened fire “did not meet the legal conditions to use a weapon”.

(AFP France 24 hours news)

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