Protesters clash with riot police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre early Thursday amid a second night of protests over the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old boy by police following a chase that saw unrest spread across the country. Photo by Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE
June 29 (UPI) — French security forces arrested at least 150 people as the Paris suburbs were rocked by a second consecutive night of riots sparked by the police shooting of a 17-year-old boy, with violence also erupting in other cities, authorities said Thursday.
In the suburb of Nanterre, the scene of Tuesday’s shooting, protestors set vehicles ablaze and clashed with police who fired tear gas. In the Mons-en-Barœul suburb of Lille masked rioters stormed the town hall and set fires inside and protestors in Lyon and Toulouse threw stones bottles and fireworks at police.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that the unrest had spread to virtually every corner of the country and criticized those who had not attempted to calm tensions.
“A night of unbearable violence against symbols of the Republic: town halls, schools and police stations set on fire or attacked. 150 arrests. Support for the police, gendarmes and firefighters who face up with courage,” Darmanin said in a Twitter post. “Shame on those who did not call for calm.”
President Emmanuel Macron, who held an emergency meeting of his cabinet to address the crisis early Thursday thanked emergency services and officials for their work and again appealed for cooler heads to prevail.
“Thank you to the police, gendarmes, firefighters and elected officials mobilized. Meditation, justice and calm must guide the next few hours,” Macron said in a Twitter post.
Pascal Prache, the prosecutor investigating the fatal shooting of Naël M during a traffic stop, ruled Thursday that the police officer’s use of a firearm was “unlawful” and that it was now a murder investigation.
Naël and two other suspects who were in the vehicle Nahel was driving are under investigation for resisting arrest.
Prache gave a more detailed account of events leading up to the shooting saying it followed a car chase in which the suspects’ BMW ran a red light, committed various traffic violations and endangered pedestrians.
The officer opened fire when the driver was ordered to stop a second time but failed to do, he said.
The matter has been referred to the national police watchdog and France’s human rights ombudsman has also launched an inquiry.
In the National Assembly lawmakers held a minute’s silence Wednesday with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne saying the shooting “seems clearly not to comply with the rules”.
The unrest comes amid growing anti-police sentiment over the shooting deaths of 15 people in traffic stops in the past 18 months and heavy-handed tactics during protests against reducing the national retirement age.