The reactions went well beyond the political sphere. Even French football star Kylian Mbappé was outraged by declaring on Twitter that he had “pain in [sa] France “. The death of a 17-year-old teenager, Nahel, on Tuesday in Nanterre, killed at point-blank range in a car by a police officer after refusing to comply, aroused immense emotion in France.
The whole scene was filmed and immediately broadcast on social networks. Despite calls for calm, clashes between young people and the police took place in the Paris suburbs and in several cities in France overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Macron forced to react
The drama came to hit Emmanuel Macron’s trip to Marseille, forcing him to react. This death is an act “unexplainable and inexcusable” , he told the press on the sidelines of a visit to a dilapidated housing estate in the city. “Nothing, nothing justifies the death of a young person”, he added, expressing “the emotion of the entire Nation”. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin spoke of “extremely shocking images” and Elisabeth Borne an intervention which was “obviously not in accordance with the rules”.
At the embly, a minute of silence was observed. But beyond this brief moment of meditation, the controversies were in full swing. The left sees it as an “execution” and proof of a police force that it has long considered out of control. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of France Insoumise, called for “entirely [la] refound”. In the crosshairs of the left is the 2017 law which facilitates the use of firearms in the event of refusal to comply.
On the right and on the far right, support for the police prevails, even if the “drama” has been denounced by some officials. Many have pointed to the importance of refusals to comply and the lack of firmness of the authorities in the face of delinquency. Calls for respect for the presumption of innocence of police officers and for the separation of powers have also been heard.
If Gérald Darmanin called in vain to avoid “political recovery” during questions to the government in the Senate, Emmanuel Macron concentrated the criticism. Marine Le Pen denounced the “irresponsible” and “very excessive” remarks of the Head of State. “The president is ready to forget constitutional principles to try to put out a potential fire,” said the three-time presidential candidate.
Presumption of innocence
The presidential reaction is no better within the powerful police unions, whose positions are watched like milk on fire by the government. Alliance, one of the principals, led the dance. “It is inconceivable that the President of the Republic, like certain politicians, artists or others, flout the separation of powers and the independence of justice by condemning our colleagues even before it is pronounced”, denounced the union. .
Another major police union, Unit SGP Police, also insisted on the presumption of innocence when denouncing the recoveries.
The drama places Emmanuel Macron on a triple front: accused by the left of letting the police drift, by the right and the far right of being too lax with offenders and flouting the separation of powers and by the unions of responding too quickly to general indignation and emotion, forgetting the police.
In the immediate future, the emergency for the government is to restore calm while new demonstrations of anger are feared and the “white march” Thursday in Nanterre worries the police.