French authorities have estimated that rioters have burned or looted more than 1,100 public and private buildings over the past week in their violent response to a police shooting involving a 17-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent.
On Wednesday, a French news outlet reported that, according to the country’s Ministry of the Interior, roughly 1,105 buildings including police stations, town halls, and schools have been assaulted since riots began on June 27. French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told a CNN affiliate that more than 1,000 businesses have been “vandalised, attacked or set on fire.” The damages are estimated to cost over $1 billion.
The impetus for the nationwide violence occurred on June 27, when a French police officer shot and killed 17-year-old “Nahel M.” during a traffic stop. While exact details of the situation remain unclear, early reports indicate the situation unfolded after police pulled the young man over in a Paris suburb for allegedly breaking traffic rules. According to Fox News, police have reportedly claimed Nahel “drove his car at one of the officers, while the video [of the incident] shows one of the officers pointing a weapon at him and saying, ‘You are going to get a bullet in the head.'”
“The officer then appears to shoot Nahel as the car suddenly pulls away, traveling only a short distance before crashing, with Nahel dying at the scene. Police took the offending officer into custody and opened an investigation into charges of voluntary manslaughter, with charges brought against him on Friday,” the Fox report reads. The officer’s lawyers have since claimed their client meant to shoot Nahel in the leg but was bumped into when the car took off and did not intend to kill him.
While Nahel was known to authorities before the incident, he allegedly did not have a criminal record, according to the BBC.
Figures from France’s Ministry of Justice indicate that “3,915 people have been arrested nationwide since Friday — 374 have appeared in court and 120 handed prison sentences,” and the average age of those arrested is 17. Roughly 700 security officials have been injured since the violence began, although “no serious injuries have been reported.”
French President Emmanuel Macron — who was spotted dancing at an Elton John concert while riots engulfed his country — has offered a seemingly mixed response to the riots. While the French president called the shooting of Nahel “inexplicable” and “unforgivable,” he has stopped short of furthering leftist claims there is “systemic racism” within French law enforcement.
Macron also claimed that Big Tech companies such as TikTok and Snapchat have helped fuel the riots. He said his administration will work with social media giants to remove “the most sensitive content” and identify users who “call for disorder or exacerbate the violence.”
On Friday, two unions representing a large swath of French police officers issued a statement condemning Macron for his seemingly lackadaisical response to the riots. The unions additionally called on the president to back French police in their attempts to quell the violence.
“In the face of these savage hordes, calling for calm is not enough, we need to impose it, to re-establish order in the republic and put those arrested beyond where they can act up,” the statement reads.
Marine Le Pen — who ran against Macron in the 2017 and 2022 French presidential elections — also appeared to criticize the president for his handling of the crisis, saying in a June 29 tweet thread that France “is getting worse and worse and the French are paying the terrible price for this cowardice.” The government has since deployed 45,000 officers to handle the riots.
The ongoing situation in France bears a striking resemblance to the violence from the Black Lives Matter and Antifa “summer of love” that engulfed American cities following the May 2020 death of George Floyd. Much like the French incident, leftist anarchists in America used Floyd’s death as a pretext to riot, loot, and burn major cities across the country. And much like the French government’s response to the crisis, many U.S. officials waited until after the damage had been done and lives were lost to deploy effective countermeasures to quell the violence.