After a 17-year-old boy was shot by police on Tuesday in Paris, France was shaken by protests that led to the ban on rallies in several areas, travel alerts, and increased discussions about over-policing in underserved neighbourhoods.
While riot police forces engaged in intense battles with protesters, images of torching cars and scaling broken-window buildings surfaced.
In response to the chaos, Emmanuel Macron held an urgent meeting with ministers to ease tensions and unite the country during his second term.
What caused the protests?
The young man Nahel, born in Algeria, was shot and killed by a policeman last week while conducting a traffic stop. This was in the Nanterre neighbourhood of Paris.
Two cops were standing on the driver's side of the vehicle, according to surveillance footage of the event. One fired his pistol at the driver. The officer said he shot the child because he was concerned the kid might run someone over in the car. This is according to Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache.
Prache says it is likely that the cop unlawfully used his firearm. He has been placed in primary custody and is the subject of an official inquiry into voluntary homicide.
What has occurred since?
Since Nahel's death, demonstrators have damaged hundreds of government buildings and held signs that read "the police kill" to draw attention to the country's racial prejudice.
French authorities have initiated a crackdown following three days of rioting in France and its neighbouring countries. They have mobilized over 40,000 police officers to patrol locations around the country. Using figures provided by the Interior Ministry, over 2,000 individuals have been detained since Tuesday. In addition, over 500 police officers have been hurt.
Five thousand police officers were stationed in Paris alone. French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin says police can stop the unrest, make arrests, and "restore republican order."
French overseas territories also saw violent protests. During Thursday's disturbances in Cayenne, French Guiana's capital,a man was shot by a "stray bullet".
According to officials in Réunion, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean, police have detained at least 28 individuals in connection with the violence.
How does this affect Macron?
Following many weeks of riots over unfavourable pension changes earlier this year, Macron offered him 100 days to rebuild the nation and focus on his administration. But any resumption possibilities are now doomed by massive protests. While cars burned and buildings were vandalized nationwide on Wednesday, Macron attended an Elton John performance.
The murders of two teenage boys who hid from police in 2005 caused three weeks of turmoil, and the French government is working to avoid repeating that situation.
Macron left early for a European Council conference in Brussels scheduled to last until Friday. He banned all "large-scale events," including "celebrations and numerous gatherings," throughout France and advised parents to keep their children at home, stating that many detained children were children.
In addition, Macron has asked TikTok and Snapchat to remove their "most sensitive content" and to identify individuals who use social media to "call for disruption or worsen violence" to quell the protests.
What triggered the unrest?
Conflicts between races over police bias against minority populations in France are said to have been stoked by activists' suspicion that Nahel's death was related to his ethnicity.
One of the main pillars of French culture is secularism, which aims to promote justice for all by removing indicators of difference like race.
But many people of colour in France assert that they are more likely to experience police violence. Compared to their classmates, young Black or Arab males were 20 times more likely to be detained by police. According to a 2017 report by the Rights Defenders, a reputable human rights monitor in France.
For years, aggressive police tactics have been blamed on France. Earlier this year, the Council of Europe criticized the "excessive use of force by state agents" during demonstrations against Macron's controversial pension changes.
Amnesty International and other rights organizations have accused the French police of racial profiling and called for significant institutional change to stop the practice.
In its initial statements following the murder, the UN urged France to address "deep problems with racism and discrimination in the justice system."
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights pleaded with French authorities in a statement on Friday to "ensure that police use of force to disperse violent demonstrators always respects the values of justice, need, proportionality, non-discrimination, prudence, and responsibility."
Later, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the UN's accusations by declaring: "France and its police forces fight vigorously against racism and all forms of discrimination."
This dedication cannot be questioned.
The rigorous and articulated standards of absolute necessity and proportionality regulate the use of force by the national police and gendarmerie.
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