France Deploys 2,000 Police After Youth Riots Over Shot Teen

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A Paris suburb was struck with major violence overnight as residents protested the shooting of a teenager by police, with a major police deployment ready for more anger tonight.

A major police deployment to French cities is planned for this evening, with 2,000 extra officers called out, after a night of violence apparently triggered by the death of a teenager who tried to escape a traffic stop. Violence spread to several French cities and saw a town hall office burnt down.

17-Year-old ‘Naël’ was shot dead by police on Tuesday morning after he attempted to flee a traffic stop in Nanterre, a Paris suburb. Per a report in French newspaper Le Figaro police attempted to pull over a delivery driver in a yellow Mercedes breaking road rules, but the suspect refused to comply, started his engine, and tried to drive away, despite an officer having his sidearm barrel pressed against the car windscreen.

While the vehicle sped away after the officer opened fire, it crashed a short time later. The driver, who according to the report was already known to police for repeated counts of driving without a license and for refusing to comply with traffic stops, was killed in the incident. An investigation has been opened into “intentional homicide” over the incident and the officer placed into custody.

Anger over the outcome of the traffic stop emerged quickly in the Nanterre, which is home to a handful of so-called Zone Urbaine Sensible, or ZUS, a French government marker which is often rendered in English as a ‘No Go Zone’. The system allows the French government to target specific areas with identified ‘cohesion’ problems with extra funding and programmes.

Violent incidents started in the afternoon, with protests originating the in Nanterre neighbourhood where the slain teen lived. Fires were lit including garbage cans and construction equipment, and fireworks shot at police officers, even during daylight hours. The situation worsened considerably overnight as police came under what was described as “heavy mortar fire” — idiomatic French for using heavy-duty or professional-grade fireworks as direct-fire weapons — and more fires were started.

The violence also spread overnight, with a town hall office in a remote Paris housing project at Val Fourre, Mantes-la-Jolie was “completely destroyed”. In all, it is claimed, there was unrest over the police shooting in Parisian suburbs, Colmar in Alsace, Bordeaux, and Marseille. In all, 42 cars were burned, two construction vehicles were destroyed, 24 police officers injured, and 31 people arrested on Tuesday night.

A government spokesman has called for calm on Wednesday, but clearly has other expectations, as 2,000 police officers are to be deployed Wednesday night to Paris suburbs. Political reaction has been swift, with left-wing actors condemning the police for using lethal force. Others have defended the police, saying the incident involving a split-second decision by one policeman was being used to demonise all officers.


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