France in Turmoil as Officer Charged in Fatal Shooting, Macron Cracks Down on Social Media

On Thursday, France experienced its third night of riots. The riots were triggered by a traffic stop that resulted in a 17-year-old boy’s death. He was only identified by his first name Nahel. The police officer who shot and killed the teenager has been charged with preliminary offenses and detained.

Mounia Nahel, the mother of Nahel, spoke to French media.

I do not blame the police. I only blame the person who killed my son.

The tragic traffic incident occurred Tuesday morning in Nanterre. It is a suburb near Paris. The incident was captured on video by a passerby. Two officers were positioned on the driver’s side of the car. One of the officers fired his gun at the driver while the driver was accelerating.

Pascal, Nanterre’s prosecutor, said that officers stopped Nahel because of his youthful appearance and that he was in a Mercedes driving with Polish plates on a bus lane. Nahel allegedly ran a red traffic light in an effort to avoid being stopped, but he got stuck in the traffic.

Pranche reported on Thursday that the officer had claimed that he fired his gun out of fear that the diver would run someone over with the vehicle. The prosecutor believes that the officer used deadly force illegally. The officer was placed in preliminary detention and is now under investigation for voluntary murder.

The prosecutor insisted that the officer remains in custody when he appeared before a magistrate Thursday. The preliminary charges are a sign that there is strong suspicion but further investigation must be conducted before the case can go to trial. According to French law, a defendant’s name is not released.

Laurent-Franck Lienard’s lawyer told French media his client was “devastated” and “apologetic.”

Lienard said:

He didn’t wake up to kill people. He didn’t want to kill.

The teenager’s grandmother told an Algerian TV station that her family is from Algeria. Algeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement on Thursday expressing its “shock and terror” and stating that the grief of the family was shared by many in the North African nation. The fatal police encounter has been linked to race. Nahel’s mother stated:

He saw a little, Arab-looking kid, he wanted to take his life. A police officer cannot take his gun and fire at our children, take our children’s lives.

The funeral of the teen is set to take place on Saturday.

France had deployed 40,000 police officers to prepare for the riots. RAID, an elite police force, was also dispatched in Bordeaux, Lyon Roubaix Marseille, and Lille, to maintain order during the protests.

The Interior Ministry announced on Friday that 875 people were arrested in total across the country. Unfortunately, 249 police officers, gendarmes, and other law enforcement personnel sustained injuries. Rioters set up barricades and used fireworks to attack police. Police responded by using tear gas, water grenades, and stun grenades.

On Thursday night, nearly 200 government buildings had been vandalized. This includes 79 police stations and paramilitary units, 34 town halls, and 28 schools. The looters targeted stores on Rivoli Street near the famous Louvre Museum, as well at the Forum des Halles in central Paris. The extent of the damage shows the severity of the situation.

Public transportation in France has been suspended at 9 pm local time, as the country prepares for a fourth night filled with unrest. The sale of large fireworks, as well as the transportation and sale of gasoline cans and acids, are all banned.

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France has called two emergency meetings to address the unrest. Macron said that after the second emergency meeting, held on Friday, the youth, social media, and video games were the main culprits of the unrest.

Some of them have played video games which have intoxicated their lives on the streets.

Macron, whose comments come as protests continue to be unabated, said that it is the parent’s responsibility to keep their children at home. “It is not the job of the state to act in place of them.”

Macron announced the French government’s intention to force technology companies to develop policies to “remove highly sensitive content.” Macron also said that when “useful,” French authorities would request “the identities of those who use social networks to promote disorder or escalate violence.”

Macron named and directly blamed certain social media platforms.

The platforms and networks have played a significant role in recent events. Snapchat, TikTok, and other platforms have served as venues for violent gatherings. But there is also a mimicry of violence that leads some young people to lose their sense of reality.

Macron was criticized by some for attending the Elton John concert in Paris on Wednesday evening, while his country was engulfed in civil unrest.

The Olympic committee closely monitors the situation as the Summer Olympics of 2024 will be held in Paris. In opposition to Macron’s pension reform, which increases the age limit for eligibility, disruptors have already infiltrated positions of volunteerism. Early in June, protesters against Macron’s pension reform occupied the Paris Olympic Headquarters.

The Tour de France cycling event will begin in Spain and travel to the Southern region of France on the second day of its 23-day route. It will finish in Paris.

According to reports, Macron plans to deploy more police officers across the country. A state of emergency won’t be declared for now. Belgium also saw protests and arson before the two-day European Union summit.