France Surveys Damage From Riots as Teen’s Funeral Is Held

France is tallying the costs from a fourth night of street violence and looting as the family of the teenaged boy whose killing by police triggered a wave of anger prepared to bury him.

(Bloomberg) — France is tallying the costs from a fourth night of street violence and looting as the family of the teenaged boy whose killing by police triggered a wave of anger prepared to bury him. 

Clashes between police and mostly young people overnight were described by the Interior Ministry as “less intense” after 45,000 officers were deployed in cities across France. Some 1,311 people were arrested, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the ministry, which said 2,560 fires had been lit and hundreds of buildings damaged.  

Public buildings like town halls, libraries and police stations were attacked, and stores were looted in cities like Marseille, Lyon and Grenoble, and in areas within and around Paris. 

French President Emmanuel Macron had called on parents and social media platforms to help bring an end to violence, which spread to towns outside the capital. 

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin met with representatives of Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and Meta on Friday, saying in a statement that they should pull “illegal” messages calling for violence and insurrection. 

The funeral of Nahel, 17, is scheduled to take place on Saturday with tensions running high. Anger erupted after the teen was fatally shot at close range in his car Tuesday in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris. Video posted on social media showed two police officers leaning into the car, with one of them shooting as the driver pulls away. Authorities haven’t released Nahel’s last name.

Read more: These Are the French Cities Hit by Clashes Over Teen’s Killing

There were attacks overnight on 266 buildings, just over half the previous evening, as well as dozens of police stations, the Interior Ministry said. Some 1,350 vehicles were burned, also fewer than the night before. 

The officer who fired the shot on Nahel has been charged with murder and is being held in pre-trial detention. Pascal Prache, the Nanterre prosecutor, said Thursday the legal conditions for the use of a weapon were “not met.”

Read more: Macron Asks Parents, Social Media Firms to Help End Clashes 

Laurent-Franck Lienard, a lawyer for the officer, told Europe 1 radio that the policeman believed he “needed” to shoot.

Nahel’s mother, identified only as Mounia, said in an interview with France 5 that she didn’t blame the police force. “I blame one person, the one who took my son’s life,” she said. “He saw an Arab face, a little kid. He wanted to take his life.”

The looting of stores overnight was more widespread such as in Grenoble where the city center was littered with broken glass, empty shoe boxes and broken mannequins, Agence France-Presse reported. Shops were also ransacked in Marseille, it said. 

Tobacco stores were targeted in particular because their merchandise can be resold, Philippe Coy, head of the sector’s French lobby told BFM TV, describing considerable damage.

The unrest harks back to 2005 when weeks of riots followed the death of two boys in an electricity substation following a police chase. It’s also thrown a spotlight on French policing practices, as well as long-simmering tensions in the country’s poorer suburbs. 

In 2005 the French government declared a state of emergency that lasted close to two months in its effort to quell the violence. Macron has so far avoided taking that step, instead authorities on Friday ordered the cancellation of some events and gatherings, while bus and tram services were suspended from 9 p.m. 

Soccer star Kylian Mbappe and some of his team mates from the Paris Saint-Germain football club appealed for calm and condemned the violence. They said in a letter posted on Twitter that while many of them were from poorer neighborhoods and understood the anger, the reaction was destroying the perpetrators’ own towns and hurting their families.  

“The time for violence has to stop and make way for grief, dialogue and reconstruction,” they wrote. 

–With assistance from Samy Adghirni.

(Updates number of arrests, adds Mbappe call for calm from second paragraph.)

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