France’s government vowed to restore order after two nights of violence triggered by the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old, announcing it would deploy tens of thousands more officers and crack down on neighborhoods where buildings and vehicles were lit on fire. Ministers fanned out to areas scarred by the sudden rioting, appealing for calm and warning that the violence that injured scores of police and damaged nearly 100 public buildings wouldn’t be allowed to continue. After a crisis meeting, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said policing will be more than quadrupled, from 9,000 officers to 40,000, the Associated Press reports. In the Paris region alone, the number of officers deployed will more than double to 5,000. “The professionals of disorder must go home,” Darmanin said. While there was no need yet to declare a state of emergency, a measure taken to quell weeks of rioting in 2005, he added: “The state’s response will be extremely firm.” The police officer who fired the fatal shot in the Paris suburb of Nanterre will be investigated for homicide after an initial investigation led local prosecutor Pascal Prache to conclude that “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met.” The killing of the teen, identified only by his first name, Nahel, occurred during a traffic stop Tuesday.
The incident captured on video shocked the country and stirred up long-simmering tensions between police and young people in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighborhoods. Despite a beefed-up police presence Wednesday night, violence resumed with protesters shooting fireworks and hurling stones at police in Nanterre, who fired repeated volleys of tear gas. As demonstrations spread to other towns, police, and firefighters struggled to contain protesters and extinguish blazes. Schools, police stations, town halls, and other public buildings were damaged from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north — with most of the damage in the Paris suburbs. Fire damaged the town hall in the Paris suburb of L’Ile-Saint-Denis, not far from the national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics. Darmanin said 170 officers had been injured in the unrest but no injury was life-threatening. At least 90 public buildings were vandalized. French activists renewed calls to tackle what they see as systemic police abuse, particularly in neighborhoods like the one where Nahel lived, where many residents struggle with poverty and racial or class discrimination. Government officials condemned the killing and sought to distance themselves from the officer’s actions.