Macron meets ministers to discuss riots response following fatal police shooting of teenager

Paris authorities deployed 7,000 extra police after home of mayor of suburb attacked on Saturday

French president Emmanuel Macron and his top ministers met on Sunday evening to respond to the unrest that has shaken the country after a fifth night of looting and rioting sparked by the fatal police shooting of a teenager.

Mr Macron discussed the crisis with ministers including prime minister Élizabeth Borne, interior minister Gérald Darmanin and justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti.

Parisian authorities deployed 7,000 extra police officers in the capital on Sunday after the home of the mayor of the suburb L’Haÿ-les-Roses was attacked on Saturday night, agencies reported.

“A line was crossed,” Laurent Nuñez, Paris police prefect, said of the attack, speaking on BFM TV.


Ms Borne, who travelled with Mr Darmanin, described the attacks on mayors as “intolerable”. About 150 town halls or municipal buildings have been attacked across France in recent days, the president of the association of mayors told the AFP news agency.

However, the French government said the violent scenes that erupted across towns and cities since Nahel, a 17-year-old of North African descent, was killed by police five days ago had calmed compared with previous days.

“Quieter night thanks to the resolute action of the police,” Mr Darmanin wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Central Paris was functioning normally on Sunday despite the unrest, although a host of events have been cancelled in recent days. Luxury group LVMH said it would call off the men’s wear show for its high-end fashion brand Céline.

Some 719 arrests were made on Saturday night and Sunday morning compared with 1,311 on Friday, and the number of fires more than halved, according to the ministry.

About 50 of the 45,000 police officers deployed across France to quell the rioting were injured, far fewer than in previous nights.

Police reinforcements included units specialising in urban violence. Armoured vehicles were deployed in Marseilles and Lyons, where looting in the city centres was particularly bad. Police also blocked off the Champs Élysées in Paris to try to prevent luxury shops from being ransacked.

Nahel, whose last name has not been made public, was shot and killed by police after being held at a traffic stop.

A private funeral for him took place on Saturday at a hilltop cemetery in Nanterre, where he lived, and a ceremony was held at a nearby mosque.

Nadia, the dead boy’s grandmother, on Sunday called for calm, telling BFM TV: “The people who are rioting, I’m telling them to stop.”

It is the third outbreak of violent protests Macron has faced since being elected president in 2017, after the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement that began in 2018 over a proposed fuel tax and a series of protests this year over his unpopular pensions reform.

The president was forced to cancel a state visit to Germany to focus on his government’s response.

The fatal shooting of Nahel has stoked a wave of anger that has exacerbated tensions between the police and young people throughout the country. The riots have particularly affected areas that are home to minorities and immigrants, who face racial profiling by police and discrimination in housing and job opportunities, according to official studies.

The outcry grew quickly after a video of the incident was shared on social media, showing no apparent immediate threat to the two officers who were trying to stop the teenager’s car.

Preliminary charges of voluntary homicide have been filed against one of the officers involved and he is in pretrial detention, a rare step in such cases in France.

In Nanterre, a demographically mixed area that includes the business district La Défense and large high-rises of social housing, ordinary life continued as residents went about their daily routines and dined on sunny cafe terraces.

“I support the family of Nahel, but I am against the violence and breaking things,” said Yamid Bensoussan, a waiter at a local restaurant. “Most people here feel that way.” – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023