Posted on September 25, 2023

French Activists Protest Racism and Police Brutality

Angela Charlton, Associated Press, September 23, 2023

Families, community groups and far-left activists marched in cities around France on Saturday to decry racism and police brutality, putting authorities on edge at a time when French police are deployed en masse for a string of high-security events.

Lingering anger over the killing by police of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk in June was an impetus for Saturday’s protests, but they included groups with disparate demands for immigrants’ rights, affordable housing and economic justice. {snip}

Tensions briefly flared at the largely peaceful, boisterous protest in Paris. Members of the crowd smashed windows of a bank along the march route, and police evacuated the rattled employees. At another spot, protesters surrounded a police car and an officer darted out, waving his gun.


The protesters’ demands include tougher rules limiting the use of firearms by police; an independent body to replace the internal agency tasked with investigating police abuses; and massive state investment in low-income neighborhoods.

Marchers lamented what they feel has been a failure to address problems exposed by the killing of Merzouk, a French-born youth of north African descent, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. He was stopped by two officers who subsequently alleged that he’d been driving dangerously, and died from a shot through his left arm and chest. The officer who fired the shot was given a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide.

Merzouk’s death unleashed violent protests in Nanterre that spread and morphed into nationwide riots. {snip}


Law student Justine Larnac said “the system of police needs to be fundamentally reformed,” notably to curb police violence during arrests and traffic stops and address racial profiling.