France rocked by protests after police killing of teen as Macron blames parents and video games
Paris, France – A fourth straight night of protests roiled France as massively deployed police made nearly 1,000 arrests and the country braced for more riots ahead of the funeral Saturday of the teenager who was killed by an officer during a traffic stop.
The government said the violence had "lessened" compared to previous nights, but the interior ministry still reported 994 arrests nationwide overnight, and 79 injuries among police and gendarmes.
This is more than on any night since the protests began Tuesday, sparked by the police killing of 17-year-old Nahel, who will be buried on Saturday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre where he lived and died.
Provisional ministry numbers released early Saturday also included 1,350 vehicles and 234 buildings torched, and 2,560 incidents of fire set in public spaces.
The clashes continued as France deployed 45,000 officers, the highest number of any night since the start of the protests, backed by light armored vehicles and elite police units.
The violent crackdown was unable to stop looting in the cities of Marseille, Lyon, and Grenoble, with bands of often-hooded rioters pillaging shops.
Despite rain pouring down on Paris and its suburbs since the small hours of Saturday, rioting also flared up there, with close to half the nationwide arrests, 406, made in and around the capital, a police source told AFP.
Marseille struggling with large-scale protests
The southern port city of Marseille was again the scene of clashes and looting from the center and further north in the long-neglected, low-income neighborhoods that President Emmanuel Macron visited at the start of the week.
Marseille police said the rioters and looters were "very mobile" young people who often wore masks.
A major fire "linked to the riots" broke out in a supermarket, according to a police source.
Marseille mayor Benoit Payan called for law enforcement backup from the central government to cope.
Looting and clashes between hooded protesters and police also occurred in parts of Grenoble, Saint-Étienne, and Lyon.
Buses and trams in France have stopped running after 9:00 PM local time after several were destroyed in recent days, and the sale of large fireworks and inflammable liquids has been banned.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also announced the cancellation of large-scale events across the country, which included two concerts this weekend by hugely popular singer Mylene Farmer at the Stade de France venue.
French President Macron slams bad parenting
The killing of Nahel has revived longstanding grievances about policing and racial profiling in France's low-income and multi-ethnic suburbs. Police shot 13 people dead during traffic stops in 2022.
The teen's mother, Mounia, said Thursday that the 38-year-old officer who was detained and charged with voluntary manslaughter, "saw an Arab face, a little kid, and wanted to take his life".
But Macron, who initially denounced an "unforgivable" death, also criticized an "unacceptable exploitation of a death of an adolescent" in some quarters and vowed to introduce social networks censorship to curb "copycat violence".
He placed responsibility for underage rioters, one-third of whom were "young or very young," on bad parenting and video games.
The UN rights office said Friday that the killing of the teen of North African descent was "a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement."
Cover photo: REUTERS