French rioters have burned 5,600 vehicles and 1,000 buildings in just 1 week
07/05/2023 // Cassie B. // Views

The extent of the damage caused by the first week of nightly rioting in France is being quantified by some mind-blowing recently released figures, with more than 5,600 vehicles now burned and more than 3,300 arrests so far.

The numbers come from the Ministry of the Interior, which has been tallying the damage caused to individuals and property in six nights of riots. The violence erupted after a police officer shot a French teenager of Algerian descent to death in a suburb of Paris during a traffic stop.

Among the nearly 6,000 burned vehicles are personal cars, buses, trucks and trams. In one incident, vandals stole a large truck and used it to ram down the doors to a mall so that looters could get their hands on the merchandise inside.

Thursday night alone saw more than 1,900 vehicle fires in Paris. Rioters have also been putting up barricades, ransacking businesses and throwing fireworks at police.

However, it is not just cars and buses that are being damaged. At least 1,000 buildings have also sustained damage, and more than 250 police stations have been attacked. Post offices, shops, town halls and schools have all been targets of rioters.

Police deployment has risen from 7,000 officers a night when the violence first erupted to 45,000 per night, and 2,354 people have been arrested so far. The overwhelming majority of those being arrested are young, with an average age of 17, and 60 percent do not have any previous criminal record.

A 24-year-old fireman died over the weekend while trying to put out a car fire, and 722 police officers have sustained injuries during riots, although most of them are not serious. The six days of rioting have caused around 20 million euros in damage to Paris’s regional transport system, according to its operator.

Grandmother of boy who was killed by police begs rioters to stop

The violence began after a 17-year-old was shot point-blank by a police officer in the working-class Parisian suburb of Nanterre. While police initially said he had been driving his car toward police, video footage that was shared across social media and later verified showed a pair of police officers standing next to a stopped car. One pointed a weapon at the driver while a voice can be heard telling him, “You are going to get a bullet in the head.” The officer then fires as the car starts to drive away before coming to a stop.

The boy’s grandmother has pleaded with rioters to stop, saying: “Stop and do not riot… I tell the people who are rioting this: Do not smash windows, attack schools or buses. Stop! It’s the mums who are taking the bus, it’s the mums who walk outside.”

She said that while she was angry at the police officer who killed her grandson, she is not upset at the police in general and has faith in France’s justice system.

On Sunday, a burning car hit the home of the mayor of Parisian suburb L’Hay-les-Roses, injuring his wife and child as they slept. A preliminary investigation revealed that the car was likely intended to ram the house and set it on fire; a bottle of flame accelerant was found inside the car.

The officer responsible for the teen’s death has already been charged with voluntary homicide, but many in France are calling for greater accountability. Last year, 13 individuals were fatally shot by police for failing to comply with traffic stops, and three have been killed so far this year.

The violence does not appear to be slowing down any time soon, with the French government canceling large-scale events throughout the nation and instituting curfews in several cities. The city is also suffering as many tourists reconsider their plans to head to the popular destination. So far, between 20 and 25 percent of planned trips to Paris by foreign tourists have already been canceled.

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