PARIS—In a continuation of the unrest sparked by the police killing of a teenager, young rioters clashed with police throughout the night, targeting various locations, including the home of a mayor with a burning car. However, compared to previous nights, the overall level of violence seemed to have decreased.
By early Sunday, the police had made 719 arrests across the country, as part of a massive security deployment aimed at quelling the social upheaval that has gripped France. This crisis has presented a new challenge to President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership, revealing deep-seated discontent in low-income neighborhoods due to discrimination and lack of opportunities.
The 17-year-old, known publicly only by his first name, Nahel, was laid to rest on Saturday per the Associated Press in a Muslim funeral ceremony in the Nanterre suburb of Paris. Emotions remained raw in the area, contributing to the ongoing unrest.
As night fell on Saturday, a small crowd gathered on the Champs-Elysees to protest Nahel’s death and police violence. However, they were met with a large contingent of officers equipped with batons and shields guarding the avenue and its boutiques. In another neighborhood of northern Paris, protesters set barricades on fire and ignited firecrackers, while the police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
A significant incident occurred when a burning car crashed into the home of the mayor of l’Hay-les-Roses, a suburb of Paris. While several schools, police stations, town halls, and stores have been targeted by fires or vandalism in recent days, this personal attack on a mayor’s home was highly unusual. Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun revealed that his wife and one of his children were injured in the attack while they were asleep, as he monitored the violence from the town hall. Jeanbrun, a member of the conservative opposition Republicans party, condemned the attack as a new level of “horror and ignominy,” calling on the government to declare a state of emergency.
A preliminary investigation by regional prosecutor Stephane Hardouin suggests that the car was intentionally rammed into the mayor’s house and set ablaze. A bottle containing a flame accelerant was discovered in the vehicle.
Skirmishes also took place in Marseille, a Mediterranean city, although they appeared to be less intense compared to the previous night. The Interior Ministry reported that 55 people were arrested in the city following the increased police presence.
Overall, the number of arrests nationwide decreased compared to the previous night. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin attributed this decline to the resolute action of the security forces.
Since Nahel’s death, over 3,000 individuals have been detained. While the massive police deployment has been welcomed by some fearful residents and shop owners whose establishments have been vandalised, it has further fueled the frustration of those who view police behavior as the underlying cause of France’s current crisis.
The ongoing unrest has also taken a toll on President Macron’s diplomatic engagements. His planned state visit to Germany, which would have been the first by a French president in 23 years, was postponed. Macron was originally scheduled to travel to Germany on Sunday.
Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti issued a warning on Saturday, stating that young people who use Snapchat or other apps to incite violence may face prosecution. Macron has previously blamed social media for exacerbating the violence.