France riots ease as mayors call anti-violence rally
Riots in France appear to be calming, after five days of violent protests in light of the shooting of a teen Nahel M during a police traffic stop.
More than 150 people were arrested on Sunday night, compared with more than 700 the night before.
On Sunday, a firefighter died trying to put out a fire after several cars were set ablaze, the interior ministry said.
Mayors have called for people to rally outside town halls on Monday to protest the violence and looting.
In a press release shared on Sunday, an association of the country’s mayors notes that “communes everywhere in France are the scene of serious unrest, which targets republican symbols with extreme violence”.
“We refuse to let our country succumb to chaos… Unfortunately, this situation does not come as a surprise, and for years France’s mayors have been sounding alarm bells over the degradation in our society,” the press release reads.
It also makes a reference to the attack on a suburban Paris mayor’s home at the weekend, in which rioters fired rockets at the official’s fleeing wife and children. The incident is being treated as attempted murder.
Rioters have damaged and attempted to set fires to several town halls across France since the start of the unrest.
On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron will meet the mayors of 220 townships that have been affected by the violence.
On Sunday, a 24-year-old fireman was killed while seeking to douse several cars which had been set alight in an underground car park in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
A spokesperson for the Paris fire brigade told the BBC that there is at this stage “no formal link” with the violence that has been rocked France, but the interior ministry said an investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the fire.
About 45,000 officers were deployed across the country for the third day running.
However, there are hopes that the unrest is subsiding as Sunday was a much quieter night.
At the weekend, the family of Nahel, the teenager who was killed by police, called for calm.
A relative of Nahel told the BBC that the family did not want his death to spark riots, but insisted the law around lethal force at traffic stops must change.
And his grandmother accused rioters of using Nahel’s death as an excuse and urged them to stop destroying public goods.
She also said her “heart is in pain” about a GoFundMe page for the family of the police officer who shot Nahel, which as of Monday had raised more than €800,000 (£686,985).