French police have so far detained at least 1,300 people as violent protests continue in France following the police shooting of a teenager on Tuesday evening.
The protests have led to scenes of burning vehicles, damaged buildings, and clashes between riot police and demonstrators. Consequently, several cities have implemented travel warnings, nighttime curfews, and bans on demonstrations.
French media has reported another death of a teenager during the protests as a 19-year-old male fell from the roof of a supermarket in the northwestern city of Rouen early Friday morning and later succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. It remains unconfirmed whether he was involved in the protests.
The unrest in France has not been limited to its borders, as protests have also spread to other countries. In Brussels, Belgium, 64 individuals were arrested during demonstrations on Thursday evening. Additionally, violent clashes have erupted in French Caribbean territories. In French Guiana, a 54-year-old person was fatally shot by a stray bullet on Thursday night when rioters fired at the police in the capital, Cayenne.
The riots were triggered by a shooting incident during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. A police officer fired at 17-year-old Nahel, who was of Algerian heritage. A bystander’s video contradicted initial police reports, which claimed the officer fired because the teenager was driving his car toward him. The footage showed the officers on the driver’s side of the car, with one officer discharging his weapon despite no immediate threat.
The incident has reignited the debate surrounding over-policing in marginalised communities. Activists and anti-discrimination campaigners argue that Nahel’s race played a role in his death, highlighting long-standing tensions and accusations of police brutality against minority communities in France.
The United Nations human rights office has called for a thorough examination of racism and racial discrimination in law enforcement in the wake of the killing. However, the French foreign ministry dismissed these allegations as “totally unfounded.”
A similar incident in 2005, where two Black teenagers died during a police chase, had sparked nationwide riots in France that lasted for three weeks and prompted the government to declare a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, Nahel’s funeral, following Muslim traditions, commenced at 11:00 (09:00 GMT) on Saturday near Nanterre. Le Monde reported that a significant number of Nanterre residents and the 17-year-old’s friends gathered at the funeral home to pay their respects. The family has requested a private funeral.