A fatal shooting incident involving a 17-year-old driver and two police officers in a working-class Paris suburb has sparked widespread protests and riots across France.
The incident, which took place on Tuesday, June 27th, was captured on video, showing officers shouting at the teenager and one officer appearing to draw his firearm before the teenager was fatally shot.
Since then, public anger has escalated, leading to demonstrations in various French cities.
President Macron was quick to address the Nation in a press speech, expressing his condolences to Nahel’s family and acknowledging the gravity of the situation.
He also took the chance to “call parents for responsibility” as he noted “very young” people present at marches and riots.
Out of the around 875 people arrested between Thursday and Friday, a third were young people.
According to the French President the protests and marches are not only “an unacceptable instrumentalization of the death of a teenager “ but he also warned that social media is apt to “call for disorder and promote violence.” No doubt, he was thinking back to how the Yellow Vests protests had escalated in 2018.
The government takes action…
After three days of fiery riots, in response to the incident and the ensuing protests, the French government has taken several actions.
From major public events being cancelled, imposing restrictions on sales of fireworks, to the stopping of all tramways and buses in Paris after 9 pm or even a complete shutdown of public transportations for Marseille after 7 pm.
Additionally, the government has been closely monitoring the situation, deploying an increased number of police officers, up to 40,000, to maintain public order and security and imposing curfews to some municipalities.
The French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has even mentioned the deployment of armored vehicles by police during riots.
On Thursday, June 29, a significant march was held in the suburb of Nanterre, near the place where the shot happened, led by Mounia, the mother of the victim, Nahel.
The peaceful demonstration witnessed the participation of numerous families, with Nahel’s family leading the march, calling for justice and solidarity.
Protesters carried cardboard signs with powerful messages, such as “How many Nahels have not been filmed?”
These signs highlighted the concern that similar incidents might go unnoticed and called for justice and accountability.
The tragic shooting of Nahel resonated deeply with the protesters, as many people felt a personal connection to the victim.
Related Articles: Yellow Vests Protests: The Roots of French Discontent | France’s First Female Prime Minister in 30 years: Elisabeth Borne | Impact of a Murder: Addressing Police Brutality | Defunding The Police: What It Really Means
They expressed the sentiment that what happened to Nahel could have easily happened to their own sons or brothers, amplifying their determination to seek justice and put an end to such incidents.
Expressing her sentiments in an on-camera interview with television station France 5, Nahel’s mother, Mounia, asserted, “I don’t blame the police, I blame one person, the one who took my son’s life.”
Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache stated that it is believed the officer’s use of his firearm was unlawful.
The officer is currently under investigation for voluntary homicide and has been placed in preliminary detention as authorities seek to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident.
Overall the march served as a powerful display of collective grief and a demand for accountability.
…But the problem goes beyond a single shooting, raising issues of racism
However, on the same night, violent protests erupted across various cities in France.
In the center of Paris, stores were broken into, and numerous fires were set, escalating the level of unrest.
Around 150 arrests were made overnight as a result of the violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement.
The tragic shooting incident and its aftermath have laid bare deep-seated issues of racism within French society and the law enforcement system.
The crowds that have taken to the streets in protest have vehemently denounced the shooting death of Nahel, chanting powerful slogans such as “We don’t forget, we don’t forgive,” reflecting their determination to seek justice and hold those responsible accountable.
The United Nations has weighed in on the matter, highlighting the presence of racism within the French police force.
However, in a statement issued on Friday, June 30th, the French government vehemently rejected these accusations.
The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs stated, “Any accusation of racism or systematic discrimination in the police force in France is totally unfounded,” refuting the notion that racism plays a role in law enforcement practices.
#ONU | La France a pris connaissance de la déclaration de la porte-parole du Haut-commissariat des Nations unies aux droits de l’Homme (HCDH) du 30 juin 2023.
— France Diplomatie🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@francediplo) June 30, 2023
The ongoing unrest and the international scrutiny have underscored the urgent need for France to address and confront the issue of racism within its law enforcement system.
The events surrounding Nahel’s death have ignited a national conversation about discrimination, policing practices, and social inequality, demanding comprehensive reforms to ensure justice, fairness, and equality for all citizens.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Protesters holding cardboard signs during the march for Nahel, in Nanterre. Featured Photo Credit: Hannah Ruhland.