Social unrest erupted across France this week after an incident in which police short a teenage male driver during a routine traffic stop. As rioting spread the government was forced to deploy 40,000 police officers to quell the violence. The turmoil was sparked after police fatally shot a 17-year-old teenager of North African descent during a traffic stop.
Burning vehicles are seen in a street amid clashes between protesters and police during a march in tribute to Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in Nanterre, Paris suburb, France, June 29, 2023. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
The country has been on a knife edge since President Macron tried to bypass the national assembly and push through deeply unpopular pensions reforms early this year. And social unrest has been simmering since the 'Yellow Vests' protests against fuel price inflation and a soaring cost of living in 2018.
The police killing of the teenager occurred on Tuesday, captured on video, shocked the country, and has since unleashed riots across major cities. As President Emmanuel Macron fought to contain a mounting crisis on Thursday unrest erupted for a third day over the deadly police shooting of a teenager of Algerian and Moroccan descent during a traffic stop in a Paris suburb.
The epicenter of the unrest is around Nanterre, located on the western outskirts of Paris. A map of the unrest shows riots are occurring nationwide. On Wednesday night, chaos worsened, leading Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to announce that 40,000 officers would be immediately deployed. He said:
"The professionals of disorder must go home. There will be a lot more police and gendarmes present tonight."
French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency security meeting today about the violence. He said the "violence against police stations, schools, town halls, against the Republic, is unjustifiable."
"The unrest across France, set off by the deadly police shooting of a teenager of North African descent during a traffic stop, has revived memories of riots in 2005 that gripped France for three weeks," The Independent said.
In Nanterre, the working class town on the western outskirts of Paris where 17-year-old Nahel M. was shot dead on Tuesday, protesters torched cars, barricaded streets and hurled projectiles at police following a peaceful vigil.
Protesters scrawled "Vengeance for Nahel" across buildings and bus shelters.
Local authorities in Clamart, 8 km (5 miles) from central Paris, imposed a nighttime curfew until Monday.
Valerie Pecresse, who heads the greater Paris region, said all bus and tram services would be halted after 9 p.m. after some were set alight the previous night.