France is grappling with significant unrest following the fourth consecutive night of riots over the police-involved shooting of Nahel M, a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan descent.
The government mobilized 45,000 police and multiple armored vehicles to mitigate the crisis, marking the most severe challenge to President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership since the Yellow Vest protests in 2018.
While the Interior Ministry reported that violence was “lower in intensity”, the number of arrests increased from 875 to 1,311.
Nahel M’s death during a traffic stop in Nanterre, a western Paris suburb, catalyzed the unrest.
His funeral was attended by friends, family, and community members expressing their condolences and concern over the incident.
The shooting, which was captured on video, has reignited complaints about police violence and perceived systemic racism in law enforcement agencies.
The tension escalated into nationwide unrest with instances of arson, looting, and vandalism reported in Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, and Lille.
Over 200 police officers were injured, and an average age of those arrested was 17, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Numerous shops have been looted, and around 2,000 vehicles have been set ablaze since the start of the riots. Friday saw 80 arrests in Marseille, where an explosion was reported in the old port area, though no casualties were confirmed.
Armored personnel carriers were dispatched in Lyon, while in Paris, authorities cleared protesters from Place de la Concorde.
Macron urged parents to keep their children at home as the chaos brought back memories of the 2005 nationwide riots.
President Macron prematurely left an EU summit to hold a second cabinet crisis meeting and called on social media platforms to remove inflammatory footage and identify users promoting violence.
The national soccer team issued a statement pleading for calm, and the Tour de France prepared to adjust its route due to the situation.
The shooting incident has heightened international attention, with the U.N. rights office urging France to ensure non-discriminatory use of force.
The police officer responsible for Nahel’s death is currently under investigation for voluntary homicide and is in preventive custody.