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France: Macron promises to reinforce police presence amid nationwide unrest

French police officers in riot gear stand guard and hold tear gas canister launchers next to the facade of a damaged store in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 30, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron says more security forces would be sent to quell the nationwide protests sparked by the police killing of a teen.

Macron was forced to rush back from an EU summit to take part in a second emergency crisis meeting in Paris as nationwide violent protests, triggered by the police killing of 17-year-old Nahel M, continued for a third night.

After chairing the crisis meeting on Friday he said "additional means" would be mobilized by the interior ministry to deal with the unrest.

He called on parents to keep child rioters off the streets, adding that around a third of the 875 people arrested overnight for rioting were "young, or very young".

"It's the responsibility of parents to keep them at home," he told reporters. "It's not the state's job to act in their place."

He called on social media to stop fueling copycat violence in society amid the riots, urging the platforms to remove most “sensitive content.”

French Police to use armored vehicles

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Friday that the country's police will use armored vehicles to suppress the protests.

"Additional mobile forces" would be deployed along with the vehicles belonging to France's gendarmerie, Borne said, AFP reported. 

The fatal shooting has opened old wounds in minorities regarding police brutality and systemic racism prevalent among French law enforcement officers.

On Thursday, the grieving mother of the slain teenager accused the police officer who shot her son of racial bias. She said that the 38-year-old officer, now facing a voluntary homicide charge, was blinded by racism when he "saw an Arab face" and chose to use lethal force instead of other methods to stop her son, who was driving the car.

Prior to the Friday security meeting, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne had called the rioting “intolerable and inexcusable”, saying the French government will examine “all options” for restoring law and order across the country.

In related news, the United Nations warned France against French police brutality, saying Paris needs to address deep issues of racial discrimination among French law enforcement officers.

“We are concerned by the killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by police in France on Tuesday,” UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a media briefing in Geneva on Friday. 

“We note that an investigation has been launched into alleged voluntary homicide.”

“This is a moment for the country to seriously address the deep issues of racism and discrimination in law enforcement.”

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