The police killing of a Black man in France set the stage for eerily familiar scenes of unrest as dozens of frustrated protesters took to the streets for a second time on Wednesday (July 4).
Fire filled the air, glass littered the road and cries carried pain into the night in the French city of Nantes, according to reports. Riots erupted, and eleven people were detained by police after nearly 200 officers came out in militarized gear, according to ABC News. The fatal shooting of an unidentified 22-year-old Black driver during a police check on Tuesday has shed light on institutionalized police violence in France.
French police previously faced scrutiny because of the increase in their use of service weapons by 54 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to data released in June by the General Inspector of the French police. The number of investigations into officers accused of violence also went up from 543 cases to 576, French newspaper The Local reported.
Relationships between police and low-income people of color in France have been strained for years. French police, like U.S. police officers, have been at the center of controversy over using excessive force against Blacks, The Guardian noted. Tensions boiled over with the police custody death of Adama Traoré in Beaumont-sur-Oise outside Paris in 2016.
Tuesday’s police shooting further highlighted tensions, and there was a marked lack of transparency about the 22-year-old’s death. The man, whose full name wasn’t released, was stopped by police at 8:30 p.m., local Police Chief Jean-Christophe Bertrand said. What happened next remains unclear, but officers said they were told by their superiors to take the man into custody after questions arose over his identity. The man allegedly then hit a police car, authorities said, before an officer fired his weapon into the driver’s carotid artery. The driver was declared dead at a local hospital.
The man was only identified as Aboubakar F., and he was stopped by Breil police in Western France, Le Monde reported.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised an investigation into the man’s death, according to ABC. A silent march has also been planned for Thursday evening in Nantes.