Funeral held for French teenager as arrests mount on fifth night of protests

Jul 2, 2023, 7:00 AM

Paris, France (CNN) — A tense atmosphere lingered in Nanterre on Saturday following the funeral ...

Youths clash with police in Nanterre, outside Paris, Thursday, June 29, 2023. The death of 17-year-old Nael by police during a traffic check Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre elicited nationwide concern and widespread messages of indignation and condolences. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 1,200 police were deployed overnight and 2,000 would be out in force Wednesday in the Paris region and around other big cities to "maintain order."(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Paris, France (CNN) — A tense atmosphere lingered in Nanterre on Saturday following the funeral of a French teenager who was fatally shot by police in the Paris suburb earlier this week.

Arrests continued to mount with more than 1,300 people detained Friday overnight into Saturday and another 121 people arrested Saturday during the fifth night of nationwide protests in France after the 17-year-old’s death, according to the French Interior Ministry.

Family and friends gathered Saturday afternoon local time for the funeral service at a mosque in Nanterre. The funeral was solemn and quiet, according to CNN’s team on the ground, with people waiting in silence for his coffin to leave the mosque and be taken for burial. The teenager has been buried in the Mont Valérien cemetery in Nanterre, CNN’s team reported.

A heavy security presence was in place around the mosque.

The boy’s mother, Mounia, told television station France 5 on Friday that she blamed only the officer who shot her son, Nahel Merzouk, for his death. Nonetheless, the killing has sparked widespread destructive unrest and questions over whether race was a factor in his death.

Protests continued into the early hours of Saturday in defiance of a ban announced a day earlier on all “large-scale events” in the country, with rioting breaking out in several cities, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

France’s Interior Ministry said Saturday that 1,311 people had been detained following the fourth night of violence, an update on its previous figure. It said 2,560 fires had been reported on public roads, with 1,350 cars burned, and that there had been 234 incidents of damage or fire in buildings.

France activated 45,000 police and gendarmes across the country Saturday night, according to the country’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin.

“I think everyone understands that the government won’t back down,” Darmanin said.

He added the French government will heavily reinforce security forces in Lyon and Marseille, where violent clashes took place Friday night.

Many of those detained since the unrest began on Tuesday are minors. The average age of the more than 2000 detainees is 17 years old, Darmanin said.

Seventy-nine police and gendarmes were injured over the course of Friday night and there were 58 attacks on police and gendarme stations, according to the Interior Ministry.

Two police officers suffered gunshot wounds in Vaulx-en-Velin, a suburb of Lyon, the office said, one to the nose and the other to the thigh.

Social media videos of scenes in Lyon, geolocated by CNN, showed rapid gunfire from an automatic rifle at night, fireworks being released at a protest and demonstrators next to burning fires.

The Interior Ministry said it would send its elite unit of riot police, CRS 8, to Lyon on Saturday night as it seeks to clamp down on the violence.

More than 700 businesses across France have been damaged since the start of the protests, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a news conference Saturday. The businesses, which include shopping centers and bank branches, have been attacked, looted or in some cases, burned to the ground, he said.

Macron postpones state visit

In light of the protests, French President Emmanuel Macron has postponed his planned state visit to Germany, the press office of the German presidency said in a statement Saturday.

Macron spoke with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier by phone to brief him on the “situation in his country,” the statement said. He had been due to visit Germany from July 2 to July 4.

On Friday, the German government expressed “concern” over the unrest sweeping France.

The French president has faced criticism after he was spotted at an Elton John concert on Wednesday while buildings were being defaced and cars burned across the country.

The continued violence overnight into Saturday came despite French police deploying 45,000 officers, special units, armored vehicles and helicopters across the country.

The country’s interior minister said in a tweet that reinforcements would be sent to Marseille on Saturday following reports by the local mayor of violence and looting.

Marseille mayor Benoit Payan had tweeted late Friday night that the scenes were “unacceptable” and called upon the state to “immediately send additional law enforcement forces.”

There was an explosion in the Old Port of Marseille on Friday evening, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV, but no casualties were reported. The broadcaster also shared video showing damage to the Alcazar library in Marseille which it said had been vandalized during the night.

The previous night, 917 people were detained across the country, among them children as young as 13, Darmanin told French TV channel TF1.

Based on numbers released by France’s Interior Ministry, CNN estimates that more than 2,000 protesters have been detained and around 522 police officers and gendarmes injured since the unrest first broke out on Tuesday.

Why are people protesting?

The unrest is a response to the death of Nahel, who was shot dead during a traffic stop Tuesday morning in Nanterre.

Footage of the incident filmed by a bystander showed two officers standing on the driver’s side of the car, one of whom fired his gun at the driver despite not appearing to be in any immediate danger.

The officer has said he fired his gun out of fear that the boy would run someone over with the car, according to Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache.

The officer currently faces a formal investigation for voluntary homicide and has been placed in preliminary detention.

Despite calls from top officials for patience to allow time for the justice system to run its course, a sizable number of people across France remain shocked and angry, especially young men and women of color who have been victims of discrimination by police. Nahel was of Algerian descent.

Protests appear even to have spread to overseas French territories.

A man was killed by a “stray bullet” during riots in Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, on Thursday evening, according to a statement from the city’s mayor.

And authorities in Réunion, a French department in the Indian Ocean, said Saturday that at least 28 people had been detained in riots there, while five police officers and a gendarme were injured.

Darmanin has said that the death of Nahel “cannot justify the disorder and the delinquency,” while French Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti has called for “firm sanctions” against the rioters and said that “justice was not achieved by looting, smashing public establishments and attacking people.”

This level of unrest and rioting has not been seen in France since 2005, when the deaths of two teenage boys who were hiding from police sparked weeks of rioting and prompted the government to call a state of emergency.

But the French government has so far resisted calling a state of emergency this time around.

A spokesperson for the Elysée said Friday that a state of emergency was “not necessary” and that a “gradual response” to the violence seen in recent days was “more appropriate.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Usher performing at the 2023 iHeartRadio Living Black Block Party in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter/Get...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Usher will headline the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show

Grammy-winning artist Usher is saying “Yeah!” to headlining the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show.

3 days ago

Shelves of bottled water were far from full Friday at Fremin's Food Market in Port Sulphur, Louisia...

Jamiel Lynch and Rachel Ramirez, CNN

An October saltwater intrusion could threaten drinking water in New Orleans, so they’ll barge in 36 million gallons of fresh water a day

The US Army Corps is planning to barge 36 million gallons of fresh water daily into the lower Mississippi River near New Orleans.

3 days ago

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and children gather in the coastal city of Netanya on September 21, to pe...

Sofia Barrett, CNN

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Here’s what that means

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is considered the holiest day of the year for people who practice Judaism.

3 days ago

Senator Bernie Sanders addresses the audience during a rally in support of striking United Auto Wor...

Eva Rothenberg, CNN

Contract negotiations: UAW strike puts the four-day workweek back in focus

Originally Published: 17 SEP 23 17:02 ET (CNN) — When the United Auto Workers called a strike last week against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, one of their demands focused on an idea circulating on the periphery of labor reform circles. In addition to calling for a 36% pay raise and increased job security, union […]

10 days ago

After Drew Barrymore initially announced plans to resume production of her daytime talk show, the W...

Alli Rosenbloom and Lisa Respers France, CNN

Drew Barrymore and ‘The Talk’ pause show returns as writers and actors remain on strike

Drew Barrymore announced that she will pause the premiere of her talk show

10 days ago

Generac has recalled about 64,000 of its portable generators after reports of overheating resulting...

Michelle Watson, CNN

Generac recalls around 64,000 portable generators amid hurricane season

As hurricane season continues to knock out power supplies Generac Power Systems says its recalling thousands of portable generators.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Funeral held for French teenager as arrests mount on fifth night of protests