American businessman and owner of SpaceX Elon Musk said he was shocked by the number of weapons that the protesters in France had. He wondered how the protesters could get it.
“Personal gun ownership in Europe is extremely limited, but still present. Therefore, most of these “guns” are most likely stolen or illegally imported into France,” he expressed his opinion on Twitter.
Police union general secretary Denis Jacob told BFMTV that “some individuals were armed with shotguns” during the riots. According to him, they shoot at the security cameras.
“As far as I know, there was no shooting in the direction of the security forces,” the policeman said.
However, a few hours later, Le Figaro reported that in Lyon an unknown participant in the riots fired at the police with long-barreled weapons, seven law enforcement officers were injured.
Mass protests in France began after a police officer in Nanterre shot and killed 17-year-old Nahel on June 27 because he refused to comply with police demands. The minor died on the spot, and the police officer was arrested on charges of premeditated murder.
Protests spread to other cities in France, and then turned into riots when demonstrators clashed with the police.
Thousands of detainees
Unrest has been going on for several days. They swept Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg and other cities and are accompanied by arson of cars, pogroms and clashes with the police. According to the BFMTV channel, more than 1,300 cars and 234 buildings were set on fire during the riots last night. Protesters also fired fireworks at law enforcement officers.
During the night, about 80 policemen and gendarmes were injured during the riots, and law enforcement officers detained 994 people during the same time.
Most of the rioters are minors, with the average age of detainees being 17, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said.
“They attract minors. We detained children who were 13 years old,” the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said.
The Minister stressed that there is no connection between the mourning for the murdered teenager and the pogroms of city halls and educational institutions. “I want to say that the matter is in the upbringing that parents give,” Darmanen said and recalled that he himself was born into a poor family.
Critics of the actions of the protesters point out that the pogroms have nothing to do with justice. In Paris, demonstrators smashed a Nike Store, in Nantes, a Lidl supermarket was damaged by their actions, and in Besançon, the Credit Mutuel bank. On the night of July 1, McDonald’s restaurants and a media library were set on fire in Moselle and Alsace. Several businesses were looted in Marseille.
A store owner from Marseille told BFMTV that all goods and supplies were missing from the premises. There were traces of blood on the cabinet doors.
“It’s unimaginable, you have to see it yourself to believe it. This is such lawlessness that I cannot believe it,” the woman said.
On the evening of June 30, an armory was robbed in the city, writes BFMTV, citing a source. According to the interlocutor of the publication, several hunting rifles were stolen, but there was no ammunition for them in the warehouse.
In some areas, special forces and helicopters had to be used. To suppress the protests, the number of police officers on the streets of the country was increased to 45,000. In addition, the French authorities allowed the use of armored personnel carriers to disperse the protesters. In total, it is planned to deploy 4 Centaur vehicles and 14 Berliet VXB-170 armored personnel carriers.
Entertainment events were canceled in “dangerous areas”, and public transport stopped running at night. In some communes, a curfew was introduced on June 29.
Due to the riots, French President Emmanuel Macron left the European Council meeting in Brussels on June 30 and canceled his final press conference. According to Le Figaro, the unrest over the death of a teenager has become the largest since 2005.
At the same time, the French authorities have not yet declared a state of emergency, which would give them additional powers to suppress the unrest. According to Le Monde, Macron is trying to find a balance between a tough response to the pogroms and fears of causing an even harsher public reaction.