UK Newline (Web Desk): The death of 17-year-old Nahel M, after being shot by the police on Tuesday, has resulted in a nationwide wave of protests in France. The epicenter of the tumultuous demonstrations is Paris, where thousands gathered in remembrance of Nahel, escalating into a conflict that witnessed looting and violent confrontations.

Nahel’s untimely demise during a routine traffic stop, caught on video, has sent shockwaves throughout France, re-igniting the volatile relationship between law enforcement and youths from underprivileged neighborhoods. The authorities and Nahel’s family have refrained from revealing his last name. Some earlier reports cited his name as Nael.

Fatal Police Shooting Victim Nahel

Who was Nahel M, shot by police in Nanterre

Nahel was an active member of the Pirates of Nanterre rugby club for the past three years. He was involved in a program facilitated by Ovale Citoyen, an organization aiming to help teens struggling academically. The program’s goal was to provide apprenticeship opportunities for individuals from underprivileged backgrounds, and Nahel was on his path to becoming an electrician.

Jeff Puech, president of Ovale Citoyen, was one of the local adults closely acquainted with Nahel. Having interacted with him just a few days prior to the incident, Puech described Nahel as a “young man who utilized rugby as his anchor.”

“He was a determined individual, striving for social and professional acceptance, not a young man involved in drug dealing or finding pleasure in juvenile delinquency,” Puech shared with Le Parisien.

What was the reaction after Nahel shooting by police?

Unrest initially flared in the suburban Paris town of Nanterre, where Nahel’s life was cut short. Despite deploying 2,000 police officers to control the situation, violence reignited after dark. Emergency services fought to control crowds and put out multiple fires damaging schools, police stations, and other public buildings, as noted by a spokesperson from the national police.

A total of 150 people were apprehended nationwide, with the majority being from the Paris region. The spokesperson chose to remain anonymous as per police protocol. Details about any injured parties are yet to be released.

Nahel was an active member of the Pirates of Nanterre

French President Emmanuel Macron convened an emergency security meeting to discuss the ensuing violence, emphasizing the inexcusability of such acts and calling for a peaceful resolution. He also urged for a time of “remembrance and respect”, endorsing Nahel’s mother’s plea for a silent march in honor of her son.

In Nanterre, where the discord was most concentrated, protestors launched fireworks and hurled stones at law enforcement, who retaliated with tear gas. Several vehicles were torched and buildings set ablaze, including the town hall of L’Ile-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb close to the national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The implicated officer, currently under custody for manslaughter, is awaiting preliminary charges. The incident has reignited demands from activists to address perceived systemic police abuses, especially in impoverished and marginalized communities such as Nahel’s.

The French government has distanced itself from the officer’s actions, with Macron deeming the killing “inexplicable and inexcusable.” He maintained that nothing could justify the loss of a young life.

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The chilling incident was captured on video, with two officers seen leaning into the driver’s side window of a yellow car. As the car attempts to flee, one officer opens fire. The vehicle subsequently crashes into a nearby post, leading to Nahel’s demise.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, while addressing the Parliament, criticized the apparent failure to adhere to police engagement rules as seen in the distressing footage. While the deadly use of firearms by police is rarer in France than in the US, the country has seen growing demands for police accountability after several injuries and fatalities.

Nahel’s family lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, insists that they seek a murder charge instead of manslaughter for the involved officer. As protests and civil unrest persist into the third night, over 400 people have been detained. Nahel’s death has prompted the deployment of 40,000 officers across France in an attempt to restore peace.

The implicated officer has expressed remorse to the family, with his lawyer describing him as “devastated”. He now faces a charge of voluntary homicide. Nahel’s mother has clarified that her grievances lie with the individual officer, not the entire police force.

She lamented, “He saw the face of an Arab, of a little kid, he wanted to take his life.” In the wake of the unrest, public transport services in Paris and surrounding areas have been temporarily suspended. As of Thursday afternoon, a peaceful march led by Nahel’s mother had escalated into a scene of violence and chaos.