In the wake of renewed violence, the grandmother of the French teenager, whose tragic death at the hands of the police ignited riots, issued an appeal for calm on Sunday. The incident was further marred by an attack on the residence of the mayor of a Parisian suburb, where a car was set ablaze.
The government helmed by President Emmanuel Macron finds itself embattled as it faces a five-night stretch of intense protests triggered by the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nahel M. by a police officer during a routine traffic check in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
The killing of Nahel M., a young person of Algerian heritage, has reignited discussions about institutional racism within the French police force. Critics argue that minorities face disproportionate targeting and profiling during routine stops, a concern emphasized by rights groups.
As one of the most significant tests during President Macron’s tenure, the interior ministry has announced the deployment of 45,000 police officers and gendarmes nationwide from Sunday to Monday night.
The ministry disclosed that 719 individuals were apprehended during the most recent overnight period, representing a notable decrease compared to the previous night’s numbers. However, reports of fierce confrontations emerged in several areas, including Marseille in the south.
‘Stop and do not riot,’ Nahel’s grandmother, Nadia, told BFM television in a telephone interview, saying that the rioters were only using his death as a ‘pretext’.
‘I tell the people who are rioting this: Do not smash windows, attack schools or buses. Stop! It’s the mums who are taking the bus, it’s the mums who walk outside,’ she said.
Noting she was ‘tired’, Nadia said: ‘Nahel, he is dead. My daughter had only one child, and now she is lost, it’s over, my daughter no longer has a life. And as for me, they made me lose my daughter and my grandson.’
The attack on the residence of Vincent Jeanbrun, the right-wing mayor of L’Hay-les-Roses outside Paris, drew strong condemnation from politicians. Prosecutors revealed that assailants deliberately drove a burning car into his home, intending to set it on fire.
Vincent Jeanbrun’s absence from home due to his involvement in managing the riots allowed his wife and two children, aged five and seven, to be present during the attack. Prosecutors have reported that Jeanbrun’s wife sustained a broken leg and suffered severe injuries during the incident.
Following the attack on Vincent Jeanbrun’s home, prosecutors have initiated an investigation into attempted murder. The severity of the incident prompted the mayor to release a statement expressing his shock and denouncing the act, stating, ‘Last night, the horror and disgrace reached a new level.’
‘The situation was much calmer’ overall, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told journalist as she visited L’Hay-les-Roses.
‘But an act of the kind we saw this morning here is particularly shocking. We will let no violence get by unpunished’, she said, asking that the perpetrators be sanctioned with the ‘utmost severity’.
To safeguard central Paris from potential rioting, an estimated 7,000 police officers were deployed in the city and its suburbs. Areas such as the Champs Elysees avenue, renowned for its tourist significance, were closely monitored following calls on social media to escalate the unrest towards the heart of the city.
Journalists reported that police took action on Saturday evening in Marseille to disperse groups of youths along Canebiere, the city’s main avenue in the center, as tensions escalated and incidents of looting occurred.