Grandmother of French Teen Shot Dead by Police Officer Pleads with Rioters to Stop

In the wake of her grandson’s death during a police encounter, the grandmother of the French teen appealed to rioters on Sunday, pleading for the end to the continuous nights of unrest. The nation was further alarmed when the residence of a mayor was targeted by a burning vehicle, injuring members of his family.

The 17-year-old boy, Nahel, was shot by police during a traffic stop. His grandmother, Nadia (as identified by BFM TV in France), pleaded with the protestors, “Please, refrain from damaging windows, buses, and schools. We desire peace.”

While she expressed her outrage towards the officer who took her grandson’s life, she held no resentment against the police force as a whole, and remained confident in the justice system. France is currently experiencing its most significant social turmoil in recent years.

The level of violence appears to be subsiding. However, Gerald Darmanin, the Interior Minister, announced that 45,000 police officers would once again patrol the streets in an attempt to manage the growing resentment over perceived discrimination against residents from low-income neighborhoods, originating from former French colonies. Nahel, who was of Algerian heritage, was shot in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.

There is anticipation for a special security meeting to be led by President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday night, although it remains unclear if he will issue a public statement. Macron has postponed a state visit to Germany, the first by a French president in 23 years.

Police reported an additional 719 arrests on Saturday night, making the total number of people detained surpass 3,000 since the significant security deployment. The number of injured police and firefighters is in the hundreds, however, authorities haven’t specified the number of injured protesters.

The country was shocked on Sunday after a flaming vehicle crashed into the residence of the mayor of the Paris suburb, L’Hay-les-Roses. Several police stations and town halls have been the targets of vandalism or arson in recent days, but a personal attack on a mayor’s home is rare.

Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun, of the opposing conservative Republicans party, stated that his wife and one of his children were injured in the attack, which occurred while they slept. He described the attack as a new level of “horror and infamy” in the unrest.

An investigation into attempted murder has been opened by Regional Prosecutor Stephane Hardouin, who stated on French television that preliminary evidence suggests the car was deliberately used to set the house on fire. A bottle containing a flame accelerant was found in the car.

The government has praised the massive police deployment, which has been a relief for some residents of targeted neighborhoods. However, it has exacerbated the frustration of those who view police conduct as the root of the crisis.

Footage of the incident shows two officers at the vehicle’s window, one with his gun aimed at the driver. As Nahel began to drive away, the officer fired a shot through the windshield. The officer who shot Nahel has been preliminarily charged with voluntary homicide.

In response to the rising number of fatalities resulting from non-compliance with traffic stops, calls for increased police accountability have grown.

French daily, Le Monde, in its editorial on Saturday, said, “The death of Nahel M. underscores the protocols and practices of how police officers use weapons during traffic checks and more widely, the dysfunctional relationship between the police and young people from working-class districts.”

Meanwhile, in some parts of France, life continued as normal. Tourists gathered around the Eiffel Tower, while shoppers visited a bustling mall not far from Nanterre. Yet, in the empty square where Nahel was shot, a stark message reading “The police kill” was painted on a bench.

A vendor near the Eiffel Tower, only identified as

Demba, expressed his doubts whether the recent incidents would change anything, stating, “The discrimination is too profound.”