The unrest in France continues to escalate, with reports emerging of rifles being stolen from a weapons shop in Marseille. This comes as the country is grappling with widespread protests and violence in response to the death of a young man in a police shooting. In an effort to quell the unrest, Paris has deployed a massive police presence, including 45,000 officers, armored vehicles, and helicopters.
The incident in Marseille occurred on Friday, when rioters looted a gun shop near the Old Port district. Several “hunting weapons” were stolen before the police could intervene and secure the premises. One person was arrested with a stolen shotgun, but reports indicate that no ammunition was taken. The violence in Marseille also resulted in the arrest of at least 87 people. Masked and marauding youths were involved in smashing shops and setting vehicles on fire. The LGBTQ event, Pride Marseille, had to be postponed due to the riots.
Following the escalation of violence, Marseille Mayor Benoit Payan has called for additional police units to be dispatched to the city to handle the situation. Videos circulating on social media allegedly show attacks on police precincts in Ales, Lyon, and Bonneuil, although the government has not yet officially confirmed these incidents.
The riots initially started in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, on Tuesday night. They were sparked by the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old named Nahel M. during a routine traffic stop. The quick arrest and charging of the officer responsible for homicide did little to suppress the protests, which have since grown increasingly violent.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin provided an update on the number of detainees on Friday evening, stating that 917 individuals had been apprehended so far. He highlighted the young age of the rioters, with the average age being 17 and a third of them being minors, some as young as 13. Darmanin attributed the ongoing violence to a lack of parental responsibility.
In response to the turmoil, President Emmanuel Macron cut short his visit to Brussels to hold an emergency cabinet meeting. The French national football team also voiced their concerns, with star player Kylian Mbappe issuing a statement on social media. The team acknowledged the circumstances surrounding the young man’s death but called on the rioters to calm down. They emphasized that while they understand the substance of the protest, they cannot endorse the violent form it has taken.
Amidst the unrest, two police unions in France have demanded a crackdown on the “wild horde” that is disturbing the peace. They issued a warning to the government, stating that they are currently fighting a war on its behalf but would turn against Paris if they are betrayed by those who seek to appease the rioters.
In an attempt to regain control, Darmanin has deployed over 45,000 police officers and gendarmes over the weekend. They are supported by drones, helicopters, and armored vehicles. The government is hoping that this significant show of force will help restore order and bring an end to the ongoing violence across the country.