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Are the protests in France abating – or just getting started?

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Home Minister talks about peaceful night with less violence. Others caution against a false sense of security. One thing is clear: what is happening now will keep France busy for a long time.

What’s Next After the Fifth Night Riots in France? There are many signs that the violence is gradually abating. French Interior Minister Gérald Dormanin spoke of a peaceful night on Sunday morning, thanks to determined police action. So far, 719 arrests have been recorded between Saturday and Sunday night – significantly less than the previous nights. Also, 871 fires were recorded on public roads, up from 2560 the previous night. 577 cars were burnt – after 1350 the previous day. But despite the massive police presence and somewhat quiet night, one thing is clear: a quiet summer weekend in France is different.

The Paris police chief also urged caution. No one should conclude that the violence is finally over, Laurent Nunez told BFMTV. The 2005 riots showed that the level of violence varies from day to day. Three weeks of violent unrest followed the deaths of two youths who were allegedly pursued by police. These plunged the country into crisis through emergency and curfew. “Obviously we’re very focused and nobody’s screaming for a win,” Nunez said.

45,000 policemen are on duty

He warned against using fewer police officers because unrest would reignite. 45,000 police officers have been deployed across France over the past two nights. With the support of special forces that can engage in large-scale operations against terrorist attacks or drug trafficking organizations.

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President Emmanuel Macron wanted to participate on Sunday evening, along with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. The situation is tricky for Macron: can he pacify the streets and regain control of the situation, or is he driven by violence? The unrest forced Macron to cancel a state visit to Germany scheduled for Sunday, his first in 23 years. For the second time this year, the domestic political situation thwarted his plans: in the spring, a visit by British King Charles III was canceled due to growing protests against Macron’s pension reform. Canceled at short notice in France.

No plan submitted

The head of state has a lot at stake now. With the start of the yellow coat protests in 2018 and pension riots in the spring, he faced a nationwide crisis. Macron has yet to present a plan on how to address the underlying problems of the unrest — including lack of opportunities, poverty, crime and police violence. He seems to be banking on the massive police presence and the fatigue of the demonstrators. Macron appears to want to avoid draconian measures such as a state of emergency or a comprehensive curfew.

A youth was killed in a police officer’s firing and riots broke out. A 17-year-old boy was stopped at the wheel of a car by a motorcycle patrol in Nanterre on Tuesday. When the young man suddenly drove away, a terrific shot rang out from the police officer’s service weapon. Officers initially said the youth wanted to run over them. It was only when media-verified video images of the incident circulated on social networks that they distanced themselves from this portrayal and the intent to kill the youth. The police officer responsible for his death has been arrested. A manslaughter case has been opened against him. Since then, France has been rocked by waves of violence, with looting, arson attacks and arrests occurring every night.

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Use of tear gas

As before, the country’s two biggest cities, Paris and Marseille, were the focal points last night. The world-famous Parisian shopping street Champs Élysées was destroyed by a large police force using tear gas, as “Le Figaro” reported. L’Haÿ-les-Roses mayor Vincent Jeanbrun wrote on Twitter that the mayor’s home in the Paris suburb was attacked while his family was sleeping at home. The criminals rammed the gate of his house with a car and then set fire to the car, family car and several dustbins. According to television broadcaster BFMTV, the public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the attempted murder.

Police were there with armored vehicles, helicopters and special forces after an armory was looted earlier in Marseille. 65 people were arrested and two police officers were injured. So far, almost 400 shops have been destroyed in the city in southern France, Jean-Luc Chauvin, head of the Aix-Marseille-Provence Chamber of Industry and Commerce, told franceinfo television. He estimated losses to dealers at over a hundred million euros.

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