Rioting Arrests Drop in France After Teenager’s Funeral  

Rioting in France to protest the police shooting death of an Arab teenager, diminished Saturday night following the youth’s funeral earlier in the day.

The government deployed about 45,000 police onto the streets to try to control unrest after the funeral of Nahel, a 17-year-old with Algerian and Moroccan parents, who was shot during a traffic stop Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

In five nights of protests, rioters have torched cars and looted stores, while also targeting town halls, police stations and schools — buildings that represent the French state. The French interior ministry said 719 people were arrested Saturday night, fewer than the 1,311 the previous night and 875 on Thursday night.

“Forty-five thousand police officers and thousands of firefighters have been mobilized to enforce order. Their action … made for a quieter night,” the ministry said on Twitter.

The biggest flashpoint overnight was in Marseille, where police fired tear gas and fought street battles with youths around the city center late into the night.

In Paris, security forces lined the city’s famous Champs Elysees Avenue after a call on social media to gather there. Shop facades were boarded up to prevent potential damage.

On Sunday morning, Vincent Jeanbrun, the mayor of L’Hay-les-Roses, in suburban Paris, said his wife and one of his children were injured when they tried to flee their home after protesters rammed a car into his house and set the vehicle on fire. The mayor was not home at the time of the incident.

An officer has acknowledged firing the lethal shot that killed Nahel, a prosecutor says, telling investigators he wanted to prevent a police chase, fearing he or another person would be hurt. The officer involved is under investigation for voluntary homicide.

The officer has extended an apology to the victim’s family. Nahel’s mother told France 5 television when the police officer “saw a little Arab-looking kid; he wanted to take his life.”

Rights groups and people living within the low-income, racially mixed suburbs that ring major cities in France have long complained about police violence and systemic racism inside law enforcement agencies.

The United Nations’ human rights office said the unrest was a chance for France “to address deep issues of racism in law enforcement.”

“It’s just this deeply entrenched, really colonial mindset,” Crystal Fleming, a professor of sociology and Africana studies at New York’s Stony Brook University, told France 24 television, “that prevents French authorities from admitting that racism … is rooted in France’s history of colonization.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has been steadfast in his denial that systemic racism exists in France.

Macron postponed a planned state visit to Germany that was due to have begun Sunday. Instead, he planned to meet with his ministers Sunday evening to review the volatile situation.

Some material in this report came from Reuters.