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Riots Erupt Across France Following Fatal Police Shooting of Teenager

President Emmanuel Macron finds himself grappling with a deepening crisis as riots continue to escalate throughout France, triggered by the fatal police shooting of a teenager of North African descent during a routine traffic stop in a Paris suburb. The unrest, which unfolded overnight, has prompted an intense response from authorities as they attempt to restore order.

Riots Erupt Across France

Riots

In response to the mounting public anger that spilled onto the streets of various towns and cities nationwide, police carried out 180 arrests during a second consecutive night of riots, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. Macron swiftly convened a crisis meeting with senior ministers to address the situation. Subsequently, Darmanin announced that a staggering 40,000 police officers, including 5,000 in the Paris region, would be deployed on Thursday evening—nearly quadrupling the number deployed the previous evening.

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“The response of the state must be extremely firm,” Darmanin emphasized.

For now, both Darmanin and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne have ruled out declaring a state of emergency in the country. However, the riots has reignited long-standing concerns regarding police violence and systemic racism within law enforcement agencies. These concerns have been raised by human rights organizations and within the low-income, racially diverse suburbs encircling major cities in France.

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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The fatal shooting of the 17-year-old, identified as Nahel, occurred in Nanterre, located on the western outskirts of Paris. The local prosecutor has confirmed that the officer involved has been placed under formal investigation for voluntary homicide—a legal process similar to being charged in Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions.

During a news conference, Pascal Prache, the prosecutor, stated, “On the basis of the evidence gathered, the public prosecutor considers that the legal conditions for using the weapon have not been met.”

Expressing his outrage, Macron labeled the shooting as unforgivable and condemned the subsequent unrest as he convened the emergency meeting. A verified video circulating on social media depicts two police officers standing beside a Mercedes AMG car, with one officer firing at close range as the teenage driver attempts to pull away. The young driver succumbed to his injuries shortly after the incident, according to the local prosecutor.

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Investigations have revealed that the teenager was driving without a full license, as he was underage. A source familiar with the investigation disclosed that the Nanterre prosecutor stated the boy had a prior record of failing to comply with a traffic stop order.

The ongoing unrest evokes memories of the riots that shook France for three weeks in 2005, prompting then-President Jacques Chirac to declare a state of emergency. The current crisis presents a significant challenge for President Macron as he seeks to address the underlying issues and restore calm in the nation.