Rioting across France appeared to be less intense on Saturday, as tens of thousands of police had been deployed in cities across the country after the funeral of a teenager of North African descent, whose shooting by police sparked nationwide unrest.
President Emmanuel Macron postponed a state visit to Germany that was due to begin on Sunday (July 2) to handle the worst crisis for his leadership since the “Yellow Vest” protests paralyzed much of France in late 2018.
Some 45,000 police were on the streets with specialized elite units, armored vehicles, and helicopters brought in to reinforce its three largest cities, Paris, Lyon, and Marseille.
At 0145 (2345 GMT) Sunday morning, the situation was calmer than the previous four nights, although there was some tension in central Paris and sporadic clashes in the Mediterranean cities of Marseille, Nice, and the eastern city of Strasbourg.
The biggest flashpoint was in Marseille where police fired tear gas and fought street battles with youths around the city centre late into the night.
In Paris, police increased security at the city’s landmark Champs Elysees avenue after a call on social media to gather there. The street, usually packed with tourists, was lined with security forces carrying out spot checks. Shop facades were boarded up to prevent potential damage and pillaging.
The interior ministry said 1,311 people had been arrested on Friday night (June 30), compared with 875 the previous night, although it described the violence as “lower in intensity”. Police said almost 200 people had been arrested nationwide on Saturday.