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NY Post
New York Post
1 Jul 2023

NextImg:France arrests 1,300 during fourth night of rioting over teen killed by cop

Authorities in France beefed up efforts to quell widespread unrest over the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old that continued to engulf the country for a fourth evening, with more 1,300 protestors being arrested as cars and buildings were set ablaze and stores looted.

France’s Interior Ministry announced the 1,311 arrests countrywide — with 45,000 police officers fanned out in a so-far unsuccessful bid to curb violence — as family and friends prepared Saturday to bury the teen of Algerian and Moroccan descent, identified only as Nahel, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where he resided and was killed Tuesday when a cop fired on him during a traffic stop.

Several hundred mourners lined up to enter Nanterre’s grand mosque and view the open coffin, which was guarded by volunteers in yellow vests, while a few dozen bystanders watched from across the street.

Salsabil, a young woman of Arab descent, said she came to support the family.

“I think it’s important we all stand together,” she said.

Marie, 60, said she’s lived in Nanterre for 50 years and claimed there has always been problems between residents and cops.

About 2,500 fires were set and stores were ransacked in France during the riots overnight Friday into Saturday.

“This absolutely needs to stop. The government is completely disconnected from our reality,” she said.

Natel was scheduled to be buried later in the day at a town cemetery.

Despite an appeal to parents by President Emmanuel Macron to keep their youths home, street clashes between young protesters and police raged on.

About 2,500 fires were set and stores were ransacked, authorities said.

Macron postponed a state visit to Germany that was due to begin on Sunday due to the unrest.

Since the turmoil began on Tuesday night, police have made a combined 2,400 arrests — with the number accelerating, as more than half came in the fourth night of violence.

Hundreds of police and firefighters have been injured, including 79 overnight, but authorities haven’t released injury tallies for protesters.

As the number of arrests mounted, French government officials claimed the violence was beginning to quiet thanks to tougher security measures.

Since the unrest began on Tuesday night, police have made a combined 2,400 arrests.

However, the damage was widespread, from Paris to Marseille and Lyon and even far away, in the French territories overseas, where a 54-year-old died after being hit by a stray bullet in French Guiana on the northern coast of South America.

France’s national soccer team — including international star Kylian Mbappe — pleaded for an end to the violence.

“Many of us are from working-class neighborhoods. We too share this feeling of pain and sadness” over the killing of Nahel, the players said in a statement. “Violence resolves nothing. … There are other peaceful and constructive ways to express yourself.”

They said it’s time for “mourning, dialogue and reconstruction” instead.

French firefighters
As the number of arrests continued to grow, French government officials claimed the violence was beginning to quiet thanks to tougher security measures.

Nahel’s mother, identified as Mounia M., told France 5 television she was peeved at the officer who fired, but not at the police in general.

“He saw a little Arab-looking kid, he wanted to take his life,” she said. “A police officer cannot take his gun and fire at our children, take our children’s lives.”

Video captured the moment two officers stood beside Nahel’s car and pointed a weapon at the teenager, with one allegedly telling him that he was “going to get a bullet in the head.”

Nahel, whose last name was not released, pulled the car away, prompting the officer to pull the trigger, killing the teen.

French authorities
Hundreds of police and firefighters have been injured during the protests, including 79 overnight, but authorities haven’t released injury tallies for protesters.

His slaying sparked national outrage and accusations of deep racism within law enforcement, but lawyers for the officers claim the cops believed their lives were in danger because the teen threatened to run them over.

The average age of people protesting is 17, authorities said.

The rioting is the worst France has seen in years and puts new pressure on Macron, who blamed social media for fueling the violence.

Early Saturday, firefighters in Nanterre extinguished blazes set by protesters that left scorched remains of cars strewn across the streets. In the neighboring suburb Colombes, protesters overturned garbage bins and used them for makeshift barricades.

Looters during the evening broke into a gun shop and made off with weapons in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, police said. Officers in Marseille arrested nearly 90 people as groups of protesters torched cars and broke store windows to take what was inside.

Buildings and businesses were also vandalized in the eastern city of Lyon, where a third of the roughly 30 arrests made were for theft, police said. Authorities reported fires in the streets after an unauthorized protest drew more than 1,000 people earlier Friday evening.

Despite repeated government appeals for calm and stiffer policing, there has been brazen daylight violence, too. An Apple store was looted in the eastern city of Strasbourg on Friday and windows of a fast-food outlet were smashed in a Paris-area shopping mall.

With fewer fires, cars burned and police stations attacked around France than on the previous night, according to the Interior Ministry, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin claimed the overnight violence was of “much less intensity.”

Darmanin ordered a nationwide nighttime shutdown Friday of all public buses and trams, which have been among rioters’ targets. He also said he warned social media networks not to allow themselves to be used as channels for calls to violence.

“They were very cooperative,” Darmanin said, adding that French authorities were providing the platforms with information in hopes of cooperation identifying people inciting violence.

“We will pursue every person who uses these social networks to commit violent acts,” he said.

Macron zeroed in on social media platforms that have relayed dramatic images of vandalism and cars and buildings being torched. Singling out Snapchat and TikTok, he said they were being used to organize unrest and served as conduits for copycat violence.

Police officers
Police officers face protesters on Concorde square during a protest in Paris on Friday.

The violence comes just over a year before Paris and other French cities are due to host Olympic athletes and millions of visitors for the summer Olympics, whose organizers were closely monitoring the situation as preparations for the competition continue.

The Paris Olympics training pool was burned by rioters Thursday night.

The police officer accused of killing Nahel was given a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide. Preliminary charges mean investigating magistrates strongly suspect wrongdoing, but need to investigate more before sending a case to trial.

Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache said that his initial investigation led him to conclude that the officer’s use of his weapon wasn’t legally justified.

Thirteen people who didn’t comply with traffic stops were fatally shot by French police last year. This year, another three people, including Nahel, died under similar circumstances.

The deaths have prompted demands for more accountability in France, which also saw racial justice protests after George Floyd’s killing in 2020 by police in Minnesota.

With Post wires