News   /   IN-DEPTH   /   France   /   Editor's Choice

French Police traffic check killing riots spiraling out of control

French police stand in position as fireworks go off during clashes with youth, after the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager killed by a French police officer during a traffic stop, in Nanterre, Paris suburb, France, June 30, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

France has been rocked by violent protests over the killing of a 17 year old teenage boy by police. The deadly incident happened during a traffic check in a Paris suburb on Tuesday.

The victim, identified as Nahel M. from Nanterre, was pulled over by two police officers for allegedly breaking traffic rules while driving a yellow Mercedes.

Police initially reported that an officer had shot at the teenager because he was driving his car at him but this version of events was contradicted by a video circulating on social media.

That footage shows the two police officers standing by the side of the stationary car with one pointing a weapon at the driver.

The lawyer for the victim's family has said an additional complaint would be filed for false testimony over the allegation that Nahel had tried to run over the police officer.

Protests broke out in the suburbs of Paris but have since spread to other major cities including Toulouse, Lyon and Nice.

Nahel was a young man he is very kind he is not evil or a hooligan what the media are saying on him, it's not true.

His mom raised him well, his grandmother we know her around the neighborhood. She is kind and helpful. She loves everyone.

A young man left us for nothing!

Nahel’s Neighbour

Protestors bombarded the police with fireworks, set garbage containers on fire and torched several cars.

Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at police vans.

2000 police officers were put on put on alert in the greater Paris area.

The officer who fired the fatal shot has been placed under arrest and charged with intentional homicide.

The Police force received emergency authorization to use surveillance drones in Nanterre and have detained dozens of people there and in other hotspot areas.

President Macron has described the incident as "inexplicable and inexcusable". He also pledged justice for the victim and called for calm.

I would like to express the emotion of the entire nation at what has happened and the death of young Nahel. We have a teenager who has been killed; it's inexplicable and inexcusable.

President Emmanuel Macron of France

The incident has reignited debate in France regarding police tactics and the long standing criticism from rights groups about the treatment of people in low income suburbs, particularly ethnic minorities.

Last year 13 people were killed in France after refusing to stop for Police Traffic checks.

The killings follow a change to a law in 2017 that gave greater powers to officers to use their weapons, leaving too much room for arbitrary and biased decisions.

In 2016, a 24 year old black man died in police custody sparking weeks of violent protests.

France is haunted by the prospect of a repeat of the 2005 riots sparked by the death of two black boys during a police chase. Those protests resulted in about 10,000 cars being burned and 6000 people arrested.

The police has been accused of targeting minorities, including children as young as 10, older children and adults.

Members of minority groups are often stopped and subjected to invasive humiliating body pat downs and searches of personal belongings.

Furthermore, the police has been accused of ethnic profiling, the practice of stopping people based on appearance, including race and ethnicity, rather than the person's behavior or a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

The idea that France has had issues assimilating its "immigrant population" is an interesting one.

In the United States, just like in France, when you talk about immigrants, one knows automatically what immigrants we're talking about.

If I was to say, France has an immigrant problem, nobody will assume that I'm talking about Italian or Portuguese folks who have emigrated to France in the last 50, 60, 70,... years.

Automatically the notion of immigrant is stigmatized and also racialized.

We know what kind of bodies we expect to see; we expect to see Muslim immigrants largely from North Africa.

Muriam Davis, Author

Police often target minority youth, including young children for the stops.

Abusive and discriminatory identity checks are a long standing problem in France and are at the heart of concerns around institutional racism and discrimination.

Islamophobia is also the cause of widespread concern in France. The phenomenon is closely linked to racism.

Since 2015 the French government has adopted various laws that Muslim say restrict their religious freedoms, including a law that was passed in 2016 that prohibits the wearing of Hijab at work.

The government has also shut down mosques, Muslim led groups, charities and NGOs without due process.

So I think if we see French colonialism as something that's important to how the French State operates right now, and surely many things have changed in the French state's logic, in how it manages and governs Muslim communities.

But nevertheless, there was this notion that Frenchness and Islam were somehow in contradiction.

And indeed, I think that that is one of the kind of longer trajectory influences on current French policy.

Muriam Davis, Author

According to a 2021 government report, job applicants with Muslim Arab sounding names have a 32% lower chance of being called in for an interview,

France is home to Europe's largest Muslim population. According to government figures, Muslims represented 10% of the French population between 2019 and 2020.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku