The recent riots in France following the shooting of teenager Nahel M during a police traffic stop seem to be calming down after five days of violent protests. The number of arrests has decreased, with over 150 people arrested on Sunday night, compared to over 700 the previous night.
Calls for an end to the violence have been widespread, including from Nahel’s family. Mayors across the country have also taken a stand, urging people to gather outside town halls on Monday to protest against the violence and looting.
In a press release issued on Sunday, an association of France’s mayors highlights the serious unrest happening in communes all over the country. They express concern over the extreme violence directed at republican symbols and state, saying, “We refuse to let our country succumb to chaos… Unfortunately, this situation does not come as a surprise, and for years France’s mayors have been sounding alarm bells over the degradation in our society.”
The press release further mentions an attack on the home of a suburban Paris mayor over the weekend. Rioters fired rockets at the mayor’s wife and children as they tried to escape, and the incident is being treated as attempted murder.
Since the start of the unrest, rioters have targeted and damaged several town halls across France, attempting to set fires in some cases.
French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to meet with the mayors of 220 affected townships on Tuesday to address the ongoing violence.
Who Was Nahel M, Shot by Police in Nanterre?
Nanterre, a suburb in France, was the location where Nahel M, a teenager, was shot by the police. The incident has sparked outrage and led to the current wave of protests. The banlieues, the bleak housing estates, are once again engulfed in flames as tensions rise.
A Fireman Killed Amidst the Unrest
During the unrest, a 24-year-old fireman lost his life while attempting to extinguish fires in an underground car park in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris. The Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin confirmed the tragic incident. The Paris fire brigade spokesperson mentioned that there is currently “no formal link” between this incident and the ongoing violence. However, the interior ministry has initiated an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the fire.
Deployed Officers and Signs of Calmer Nights
To maintain law and order, approximately 45,000 officers were deployed across the country for three consecutive days. Thankfully, there are signs that the unrest is subsiding, as Sunday night witnessed a significant decrease in violent incidents.
Nahel’s Family Calls for Calm
In the midst of the turmoil, Nahel’s family made a plea for calm. They expressed their desire not to see their loved one’s death incite riots but emphasized the need for reforms regarding the use of lethal force during traffic stops.
Nahel’s grandmother condemned the rioters for using his death as an excuse for destruction and urged them to refrain from damaging public property. She also expressed her heartache over the existence of a GoFundMe page for the family of the police officer who shot Nahel, which had already raised over €800,000 (£686,985) as of Monday.
As the situation gradually stabilizes, it is crucial for all parties involved to seek peaceful resolutions and engage in constructive dialogue to address the underlying issues that have contributed to the unrest. Only by working together can France move towards a safer and more harmonious society.