France riots: 45,000 police deployed to restore order

The French government has boosted nationwide police deployment to 45,000 in an attempt to quell unrest.

French police clash with protesters over health pass (NH File Photo)
French police clash with protesters over health pass (NH File Photo)


France's tourism sector worried about cancellations

Hotels and restaurants in France are facing cancellations while some have also suffered damage in the unrest, said Thierry Marx, president of the main association for hotel and catering industry employers.

"Our hotel members have suffered a wave of cancellations of reservations in all the territories affected by the damage and clashes."

The French retail federation (FCD) also called for reinforced police security around stores.

The riots "gave rise to real scenes of looting," said the federation's managing director Jacques Creyssel.

"More than a hundred medium and large food or non-food stores vandalized, looted or even burned," he noted. 

These incidents "are extremely serious and have an extremely heavy cost," Creyssel said.

Nine arrested in Nanterre

In Nanterre, where the shooting occurred Tuesday, police arrested nine people for "possessing Molotov cocktails and jerry cans of fuel."

Firefighters in the Parisian suburb extinguished the blazes set by protesters that left scorched remains of cars strewn across the streets.

Overall the situation was calmer in Paris overnight, according to local media.

The most violent incidents were reported  in the cities of Lyon and Marseille.

Interior minister says violence easing

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said  471 people had been arrested overnight.

He was visiting security forces deployed in Mantes-la-Jolie outside Paris early Saturday morning. 

Darmanin said the violence was of "much less intensity," and there were "extremely calm departments."

Explosion in Marseille

Videos posted on social media showed an explosion rocking Marseille's old port area.

Authorities said they were investigating the cause but did not believe there were any casualties.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said reinforcements were deployed in the port city.

It followed an earlier call by Mayor Benoit Payan, who said the "violence is unacceptable."

Marseille's mayor calls for reinforcements

Marseille mayor Benoit Payan called for troop reinforcements saying the "scenes of looting and violence are unacceptable."

His city was initially spared the violence but was experiencing its second night of upheaval on Friday night.

Youths threw projectiles, set fires, and looted shops, police said.

They made 80 arrests, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Mbappe calls for an end to the violence

French and Paris St-Germain football star Kylian Mbappe called for an end to the violence. 

In a long post on Twitter, he expressed condolences to Nahel's family and said the circumstance of the teenager's death can't be ignored. 

But the World Cup star also pointed out that rioters were destroying their neighborhoods in a wave of "self-destruction" that he said won't solve the issue. 

"There are other peaceful and constructive ways to express yourself. That is where we should focus our energy and our thoughts," he wrote. 

"The time of violence must end to give way to that of mourning, dialogue and reconstruction."

Marseille police report city center violence, gun store looting

Police in France's second city, Marseille, said rioters had looted a gun store in the city center and taken away some hunting rifles but had not been able to steal any ammunition. 

One person had been arrested in possession of a firearm thought to hail from the store, police said. 

The building was now under police guard. 

Meanwhile, police for the broader Bouches du Rhone region including Marseille issued a warning to the public on Twitter about renewed violence on Friday evening. 

"Numerous violent groups are still present in the city center of Marseille," police wrote. "They are regularly being dispersed by the effective [local police officers]. 42 arrests." 

They advised members of the public, "Leave the sector and let the police work." 

Paris police clear protesters from Place de la Concorde

Police started clearing protesters from the iconic Place de la Concorde in Paris on Friday evening after an impromptu demonstration.

"Clearing operation is ongoing on Place de la Concorde," police said in a statement.

Place de la Concorde is the largest square in the French capital.

'Root cause of anger' must be addressed, author tells DW

Anne-Sophie Simpere, an author and former researcher at Amnesty International, told DW that the violence in France will repeat itself unless long-term measures are taken.

"Considering the unrest and the damage, including the damage to public property, you can understand why [the government is] deploying forces," she said. "However, I think they have to address also the deep, root cause of the anger of these youth." 

If the government focuses only on easing the current situation, "without taking long-term measures, I can bet that in a few years, it will start again," Simpere said, adding that systemic racism in the police force was a problem.

"But the problem is that to find a solution you have to admit that there is a problem."

The French government on Friday rejected accusations by the UN of racism among its police.

"Any accusation of racism or systemic discrimination in the police force in France is totally unfounded," the Foreign Ministry said.

France to deploy 45,000 police to tackle riots

France's interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, says 45,000 police and gendarme officers will be deployed across the country on Friday evening.

The announcement came as authorities braced for a fourth night of violence.

Some 40,000 police were mobilized the previous evening to deal with unrest in the wake of the killing of 17-year-old Nahel in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

France curbs public transport across the country over riots

The French Interior Ministry says it has asked all local authorities to shut down public bus and tram services before sunset in a bid to restore order.

The measure would apply nationwide from 9 p.m. (1900 GMT).

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin issued the order after attending a crisis meeting Friday led by French President Emmanuel Macron.

"The next hours will be decisive and I know I can count on your flawless efforts," Darmanin wrote to police officers and firefighters working to quell the unrest that has defined the past three nights.

The Paris region had already announced plans to curb public transport services to protect transport workers and passengers from the violence.

Darmanin also ordered a ban on the sale and carrying of fireworks. The ministry said it was also banning the sale of canisters of gasoline, acids and other chemicals and flammable liquids.

France police shooting indicative of 'systemic racism,' journalist says

The fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nahel is indicative of a "problem of systemic racism in the French police," says French journalist and analyst Rokhaya Diallo.

In an interview with DW, Diallo said the death served as a reminder of "how common it is for a person of color in France to be brutalized by the police."

"That is not the problem of one single individual, but something that is deeper."

She called for anti-racist policies and legislation to address what she described as "deep problems" within the police force.

Diallo argued that the laws currently in place were enabling police personnel to exercise violence rather than curtailing their actions. She referred to a particular law, passed in 2017, that expanded the use of firearms by police to ensure self defense.

"In five years, the number of people shot while driving was multiplied by five," she said. "So it hasn't changed for the best, but for the worst."

Diallo said she expected the anger on the streets to continue "until the principle of equality is actually applied to everyone in France."

Macron lambasts social media, says more police to be deployed

French President Emmanuel Macron criticized social media and video games after convening a crisis meeting with ministers on the unrest. 

The French president said social media was playing a "considerable role" in fomenting the unrest. Macron said he wants platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok to delete sensitive content.

Macron urged parents to keep young rioters off the streets, while noting a third of the 875 individuals arrested overnight were "young, or very young." 

"It's the responsibility of parents to keep them at home," Macron said about young rioters. "It's not the state's job to act in their place." 

Macron said "additional means" would be mobilized by the government, while condemning the "unacceptable exploitation of a death of an adolescent."

The French president did not declare a state of the emergency to tackle the unrest.

UK alerts citizens about travel to France

The British government has warned its citizens about travel to France due to the riots.

"Since 27 June, riots have taken place across France. Many have turned violent. Shops, public buildings and parked cars have been targeted," the UK said. "There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews."

The UK advised its citizens to "monitor the media" and avoid areas where unrest is taking place.

France is a common destination for British holidaymakers, with regions like the south especially popular in summer. 

Paris shortens bus and tram services

The IDFM, the regional authority responsible for public transport in the greater Paris region, has announced that bus and tram services in the French capital will shut down at 9:00 p.m. (1900 UTC) for the time being. 

In a tweet, the IDFM said the measure was for the safety of employees and travelers.   

Much of the unrest has taken place in the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre, where police killed 17-year-old Nahel earlier this week. 

French authorities release new arrest and damage figures

The French Ministry of Interior said Friday that 875 people were taken into custody during the overnight unrest, updating a previous figure of 667 arrests.

Around 1,900 automobiles have been burned since Thursday, with fires being ignited at 500 public buildings such as police stations. A total of 3,880 fires were started overnight.

The information is being provided as French President Emmanuel Macron convenes a meeting to respond to the crisis.  

UN urges France to address racism among police

The UN on Friday called on France to tackle racism in its security forces.

"We are concerned by the killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by police in France... this is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement," Spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani said.

"We also emphasize the importance of peaceful assembly," she added. "We call on the authorities to ensure use of force by police to address violent elements in demonstrations always respects the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination, precaution and accountability."

France to review 'all options' to restore order — PM Borne

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said that a crisis meeting held with French President Emmanuel Macron today will review "all options" to restore order in the country.

"The priority is to ensure national unity and the way to do it is to restore order," Borne told journalists in Paris when asked about whether declaring a state of emergency is on the table.

A state of emergency would enable the French government to enact curfews and other broad measures such as no-go areas to quell the riots.

A state of emergency has only been declared six times since 1955, most recently after the 2015 acts of terrorism in Paris by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS). A state of emergency was also decreed in 2005 by President Jacques Chirac as the country reeled from nationwide unrest similar to the one that erupted this week.

Macron's government has earlier ruled out the move. Opposition figures, such as Eric Ciotti of the center-right Les Republicains, have demanded the measure as a means to restore stability.

Riots leave hundreds of French police officers injured

The French Ministry of Interior said Friday that 249 officers were injured after the third night of unrest.

Clashes between officers and the rioters occurred throughout the country. In the southern French city of Pau, for example, local officials said a police station was targeted by a Molotov cocktail.

Social media footage showed fires being lit in major cities overnight. In the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre where the police killing occurred, rioters launched projectiles at officers. 

Across the country, 40,000 members of law enforcement were deployed on Thursday evening to quell the unrest. In the capital Paris, 5,000 officers were on duty overnight. 

In a tweet, The French National Police said it was "strongly mobilized" overnight "to restore order, prevent acts of vandalism and challenge troublemakers." 

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