French police made 16 arrests overnight in relation to the recent wave of urban violence, announced the country’s interior ministry on Wednesday. This development signifies a further decrease in the scale of unrest that had swept through impoverished suburbs following a fatal police shooting last week.
French Riot Subsides
The riots erupted following the death of Nahel M., a teenager of North African descent, who was shot by a police officer in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on June 27. This tragic incident triggered widespread anger, leading to nights of rioting across the nation and prompting a forceful response from law enforcement.
During the peak of the unrest, more than 1,300 individuals were apprehended during the night of Friday to Saturday. The situation began to calm on Sunday, and on the subsequent night, police arrested 81 people, according to the interior ministry.
These riots exposed the deep polarization within French society regarding the integration of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as differing interpretations of the values of the republic in modern-day France.
While the government and the political right have condemned the rioters and expressed staunch support for the police, there has been little indication of a willingness to address complaints regarding police discrimination and violence against minorities.
In contrast, left-wing parties and many citizens have emphasized the racism and marginalization experienced by generations of French youths with immigrant backgrounds residing in impoverished suburbs. They have also raised concerns about police violence and the lack of accountability.
The police officer responsible for Nahel’s shooting is currently in custody and faces charges of voluntary homicide.
A crowdfunding campaign initiated by far-right figure Jean Messiha to raise funds for the officer’s family has received 1.6 million euros ($1.74 million) in donations, surpassing the amount collected for Nahel’s family through a similar fundraiser.
However, Messiha closed his GoFundMe appeal for the officer’s family late on Tuesday, following a deluge of complaints and threats of legal action from left-wing parties and Nahel’s family, according to TV channel BFM.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, renowned for his tough stance on law and order, is scheduled to address questions regarding the unrest at 4:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) on Wednesday before a Senate committee.
Earlier, Olivia Gregoire, the minister overseeing small and medium companies, informed TV channel France 2 that over 1,000 stores and businesses had been affected to varying degrees by the riots and vandalism over the past week.