France tense ahead of third night of riots

Is France on the verge of a repeat of the riots that set the country ablaze for three weeks in 2005? As the Paris region was about to experience a third night of rioting, this is the question the entire French political class was asking itself, three days after the death of 17-year-old Nahel, who was killed by a policeman in Nanterre, While he refused to stop. The wheel of a car that he was driving without a license.

The prospect of change seemed clear on Thursday, while an extraordinary force of 40,000 police officers (four times more than the day before) combed the suburbs of Île-de-France and the country’s big cities to ward off a new riotous night was deployed. , As in 2005, all law enforcement holidays were canceled and even helicopter patrols were planned.

During the day, key sovereign ministers were dispatched to the disaster sites in an attempt to calm matters. In the morning, President Emmanuel Macron described the previous night’s violence as “unjustified”. an intervention that differed from one the day before when he described the police shooting as “inexplicable and inexcusable”, and that “the death of a young man cannot be justified by anything”. The comments were applauded by representatives of the left, but were received by the police as a denial of the presumption of innocence while the investigation has just begun.

“There were police! ,

“Police killers! Protesters chant in the streets of Nanterre. A “white” march was held in Nahel’s honor on Thursday in an atmosphere of high tension. Several thousand people nevertheless marched peacefully through the streets of this western suburb of Paris, largely populated by North African immigrants, before scuffles broke out at the end of the procession.

At the forefront of the procession, in front of the Pablo-Picasso town near which the tragedy took place, Nahel’s mother waved her fist and wore a T-shirt that read “Justice for Nahel”. “Police kill! Started placards again. words similar to old do of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La France Insoumise. In the crowd, we recognized Assa Traoré, the sister of Adama Traoré, who died during her arrest in 2016. Instead of a “white” march, he called for a “rebellion” march. This was probably understood by hooded youths who pelted stones at the police at the end of the procession, while terrified residents tried to drive away from their cars in fear that they would be set on fire. During the protest, journalists from BFMTV claimed that they were prevented from doing their work and according to them, a journalist was also threatened with having his throat slit.

“voluntary manslaughter”

In the morning, Nanterre prosecutor, Pascal Prache, gave the latest information on the investigation. On Tuesday morning, Nahel was chased by two police officers on a motorcycle after driving a rental car for two hours without a license and specifically endangering the lives of a pedestrian and a cyclist, he said. The police tried twice to stabilize him, but to no avail. No weapons or narcotics were found on board. At the center of many heated reactions is a video in which we see a policeman brandishing a gun and firing a shot, although we still know nothing about what was said in the car before the policeman pressed the rest and What happened.

In their defence, the police claimed that, being trapped against a wall, they felt threatened when the car suddenly started again and feared injury. He also raised the possibility that the car may have hit a person while trying to escape. According to lawyer Laurent-Franc Liénard, his client wanted to shoot Nahel in the legs and was unsettled by the car’s sudden departure.

However, the prosecution was not convinced by the explanation, according to which “the conditions for the use of the weapon are not met”. Rarely, a police officer convicted of premeditated murder was remanded in custody until the appointment of a prosecutor. A choice motivated by “political and media pressure and the extent of urban violence in progress”, according to Gregory Joron, boss of the SGP Police-Force Overiere union.

This phenomenon hardly surprises experts Since ten years the incidence of refusal to comply has been increasing in France. As of 2021, there were 27,206 Number road safety, The following year, during these traffic checks, 13 people were killed by the police. Last September, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that French police only use their weapons in these circumstances in 0.5% of cases. At the age of 17, this was not the first time Nahel refused to comply. He was indicted for the same reason just after the weekend before the tragedy. According le figaroHe had been the subject of twelve arrests for various crimes.

Several elected officials have blamed a law passed in 2017 that gives police the right to shoot when they cannot otherwise immobilize cars “whose drivers do not obey orders to stop and whose occupants flee.” , is likely to be an attack on his life or on his bodily integrity or that of others”. A wording deemed too vague.

Throughout the day, witnesses described the riots from Wednesday night to Thursday as a real increase in violence. In many suburbs, after midnight, rioters gave way to semi-professional, hooded and well-armed groups. Near Lille, the town hall of Mons-en-Baroul was reduced to ashes, while in Val-de-Marne, hooded men also tried to escort prisoners from Fresnes prison. Police officers have also been attacked on their way to work in the early morning.

extraordinary violence

These riots spread largely to the Paris region, causing fires in the districts of Lille, Amiens, Lyon and Toulouse. The protesters mainly attacked public facilities such as schools, town halls, libraries, trams and more than a dozen police stations. In Viry-Châtillon, youths took a bus hostage and forced the passengers off to set the bus on fire.

“We have never reached this level of violence,” said Reda Belhaj, spokeswoman for the police union SGP Police in Ile-de-France. According to Thibault de Montbriel, president of the Center for Internal Security, who spoke on CNews, the situation is even more dire than it was in 2005. This time, “we are dealing with people who are very well organized (…) The situation is extremely critical, we are at a crossroads”.

Despite requests from right-wing elected officials, Gérald Darmanin refused to impose an emergency. In 2005 it took twelve days for the government to resign. No curfew either, even though buses and trams will not circulate throughout Île-de-France from 9 p.m. on Thursday. The minister declared, “It is not the thugs who are going to win”, he also said that “it is the residents of working-class neighborhoods who are affected by this violence” and that “the professionals of disorder should go home”.

In 2005, the sudden deaths of Zayed Benna and Bouna Traore in Clichy-sous-Bois fueled a firestorm. The two teenagers, who hid in an electrical transformer as they were being chased by the police, were cleared of any blame. In these three weeks there were 3,000 arrests, 9,000 cars were burnt, three died and 217 police officers were injured.

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