Videos Show Buildings on Fire in France Amid Riots Over Police Shooting

Video clips shared on social media show the chaos in France as violent riots rage on following the police shooting of an unarmed teenager that sparked mounting outrage in the European nation.

Widespread protests began in France on June 27 after police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre fatally shot a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan descent, Nahel Merzouk. The teenager was shot by an officer during a traffic stop, after he tried to drive away from the police. Contributing to the escalating tensions, initial reports from police sources claimed that Merzouk had attempted to ram into officers at the stop, an account that was contradicted by footage that showed the shooting at point-blank range.

Videos Show Chaos in France
Emergency personnel survey the scene of a burnt out building – which housed a pharmacy – in Montargis, about 60 miles south of Paris on July 1, 2023. The building was set alight during continuing riots following the shooting of a teenage driver in the suburb of Nanterre on June 27. Violence and looting hit France with multiple nights of widespread protests as massively deployed police made thousands of arrests.
Mathieu RABECHAULT / AFP/Getty

The shooting of an unarmed teen of Algerian and Moroccan origin added fuel to the nation’s deep-rooted perception of police brutality, especially in the ethnically diverse neighborhoods of large French cities.

The teen’s killing on Tuesday was the third fatal shooting during traffic stops in France this year, down from a record 13 in 2022, according to local reports. Most of those killed by police in traffic stops since 2017 were Black or Arab descent, Reuters reported.

Newsweek reached out via online form and social media to the French Ministry of the Interior and Overseas for comment.

Roughly 2,800 people have been arrested since the violence erupted on Tuesday, which has left buildings and cars ablaze and dozens of law enforcement wounded in the aftermath so far, according to the French Interior Ministry.

On Friday night alone, 79 police and gendarmes were injured and there were 58 attacks on police and gendarme stations, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. As of early Sunday, the Ministry said on Twitter that an additional 719 people were arrested overnight and that 45 more law enforcement officers were wounded.

Darmanin told French media that the average age of the rioters that have been arrested is 17, adding that children as young as 12 have been arrested for arson. He said for those juveniles, their parents have “undeniable responsibility” when their child commits “unacceptable acts of delinquency.”

“I want to make it clear that parents have responsibilities, and when we call them, there will be a judicial process and the authority of the Republic will work to hold them accountable,” Darmanin said. “It is also about making parents more responsible and, in some cases, seeking their condemnation, as it is unacceptable for children to be out at 3 in the morning when they should be at home.”

French media outlet BFMTV shared a clip of Darmanin’s interview on Twitter, and Newsweek translated the interior minister’s comments from French to English via Google Translate.

In an effort to curb the unrest, France’s President, Emmanuel Macron has urged parents to keep their children home and has deployed 45,000 additional police officers nationwide.

While he previously condemned the teen’s killing as “unforgivable,” Macron referred to the protests as “absolutely unjustifiable.”

Viral videos and TV news footage show protesters launching fireworks at police, setting vehicles alight and torching public buildings in suburbs around Paris. The violence has spread across the country with reports of disturbances in the southwestern city of Toulouse as well as in Amiens, Dijon, Saint-Etienne and near Lyon, among other locations.

Social media users shared clips of the unrest, including footage of buildings on fire and rioters launching explosives at a police station.

“A building was completely destroyed by fires in Borderouge, Toulouse,” Britain First leader Paul Golding tweeted on Sunday.

“Rioters fire an RPG at a police station. Rioters in France have been seen firing automatic rifles, shotguns, and using explosives. ‘This is war’, said one rioter. #FranceRiots #FranceOnFire,” Twitter user NowVideoNetwork said in a tweet.

Another tweet by NowVideoNetwork shows a large fire in Vaulx-en-Velin near Lyon.

“The rioters are targeting symbols of the state, such as town halls & police stations. So far, more than 2,000 cars were burned, and more than 700 businesses were damaged. #FranceRiots #FranceOnFire,” the tweet reads.

“Apocalyptic scenes from France,” NowVideoNetwork shared on Twitter on Sunday. “From Toulouse & Lille to Marseille & Paris, groups of rioters have sacked police stations & looted or vandalized scores of businesses, hurling Molotov cocktails & setting off barrages of fireworks at public buildings. #FranceRiots #FranceOnFire.”

Conservative commentator Benny Johnson tweeted a video clip of a “historic” building collapsing after being set on fire during the turmoil.

“Historic buildings in France that survived bombardment in WW2 can not survive the cultural ‘enrichment’ of open borders,” he said in the tweet.

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