Chaos ensues in Marseille as clashes and tear gas mark France shooting incident
French cities in chaos after teenager's death; police clash with rioters.
In the city of Marseille, France, tensions have escalated between the police and rioters as the country grapples with a fifth consecutive night of unrest. The clashes come in the wake of the death of a teenager who was shot by police at close range. Videos circulating online depict police deploying tear gas, and authorities have reported at least 56 arrests in Marseille alone.
The unrest began after the killing of 17-year-old Nahel M, who was fatally shot as he attempted to drive away from a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. Since then, many French cities have descended into chaos, with Marseille being one of the epicenters of the protests.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin took to Twitter to announce that there were 427 arrests made overnight and commended law enforcement for their resolute action, which contributed to a relatively calmer night. In an effort to maintain order, approximately 45,000 police officers were deployed across the country for a second consecutive night.
The use of tear gas by the police against protesters was captured in videos circulating online, particularly in Marseille's main avenue, La Canebière. Reports from French media indicate that clashes between a large group of rioters and officers have been ongoing for over an hour in the area.
In Paris, a significant number of police were present along the iconic Champs-Élysées, where social media had called for protesters to gather. However, the heavy police presence seemed to deter most of them. The capital's police reported 126 arrests, and for the second night in a row, all buses and trams in the Paris region ceased operations after 9:00 PM local time.
In Lille, a city in northern France, police special forces were observed patrolling the streets. Images from the city showed firefighters extinguishing fires in cars that had been set ablaze by rioters. In Lyon, 21 people were arrested, and clashes were also reported in Nice and Strasbourg.
The funeral for Nahel took place in Nanterre earlier on Saturday, with his body set to be laid to rest in the local cemetery following a service at the mosque. Supporters of the family urged the media to stay away, prohibiting any filming, including on mobile phones. The video of Nahel's death, which circulated online shortly after the incident, showed two police officers attempting to stop the vehicle and one officer pointing his weapon at the driver.
The officer responsible for the fatal shot has since been charged with voluntary homicide and expressed remorse to the family. His lawyer stated that he was devastated by the outcome. Nahel's death has reignited discussions surrounding French policing, particularly the controversial 2017 firearms law that allows officers to use lethal force when a driver fails to comply with a stop order.
Furthermore, the incident has raised broader questions about racism within the police force. The United Nations' human rights office has viewed the unrest as an opportunity for France to address deep-rooted issues of racism in law enforcement.
President Emmanuel Macron has accused protesters of exploiting Nahel's death. He vehemently condemned the violence, labeling the use of the adolescent's death to justify acts of violence as unacceptable.