At Least 25 French Cities and Towns Erupt in Riots as ‘Youths’ Attack Police

A trash in burns in the street during clashes in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, in the northern suburbs of Paris, early on April 21, 2020. - Tension with the police erupted again on the evening of April 20 in Villeneuve-la-Garenne near Paris, where a motorcycle accident involving the police had provoked the first …

Areas in at least 25 cities and departments in France erupted into rioting on Monday night, including attacks on police and attempts to burn down a police station in Strasbourg.

Some of the incidents are believed to have been sparked by a Saturday night motorcycle accident in the Paris suburb of Villeneuve-la-Garenne which also involved the local police.

The 30-year-old motorcycle rider was seriously injured after an unmarked police vehicle opened its door at a red light, which the motorcyclist struck and then ended up hitting a nearby pole. He was taken to hospital with a fractured leg and a fractured femur.

Rioting began in Villeneuve-la-Garenne on Sunday night, according to broadcaster France Bleu, and continued on Monday night with fireworks launched at police.

Several other Paris suburbs also saw violence and rioting including the notorious no-go area of Seine-Saint-Denis which saw garbage cans lit on fire in both Aulnay-sous-Bois and Saint-Denis.

Several areas also reported attacks on police directly in Asnières, Nanterre, Meudon, Clamart, and Gennevilliers.

The department of Yvelines, which has seen nearly daily attacks on the police for the past two weeks, reported officers attacked in the city of Noé by a group of around 20 individuals who launched projectiles and fireworks at them.

Less than an hour later in the commune of La Verrière, another police patrol was attacked by a group of around five people. Rocks were then thrown at officers in Mantes-la-Jolie and a bus was attacked with fireworks in Sartrouville a short time later.

The final incident of the evening in Yvelines took place around 2:50 am in Les Mureaux where officers were violently attacked by around a dozen people.

In Strasbourg, a gang of locals attempted to burn down the building housing a local police station in the district of Meinau by throwing Molotov cocktails at the structure. Police later confirmed that there had been no serious damage to the police station.

Julien Le Cam of the Alliance police union commented on the night of violence, saying: “The night was really difficult for our colleagues. More difficult than in recent weeks. There is a rise in attacks and this is causing a lot of concern on the ground.”

Le Cam went on the state that a number of factors have led to the tensions in certain no-go areas including the impact the strict national lockdown has had on the illegal drug trafficking trade, a concern previously voiced by other law enforcement officials.

“Schools are closed. The good weather returns, and we know very well that it coincides with the resumption of motorcycle racing. In addition, many people who were in prison have been released in recent days. All this leads to an explosive cocktail reinforced by certain daily idleness,” he said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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