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France is roiled by protests after police killed a teenager. Here’s why

When a police officer shot and killed a teenager named Nahel M. in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday, outrage boiled over and spread across France. Protests have gripped big cities, as people call for justice — and riots have also broken out, bringing violence, fires, and hundreds of arrests.

Saturday night appeared calmer than previous days, with France’s interior minister reporting 427 arrests as of early Sunday morning local time.

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A day earlier, more than 1,300 arrests were made in a night of rioting as 45,000 police officers were deployed around the country in an unsuccessful attempt to curb the violence, the Interior Ministry said earlier Saturday.

The slain 17-year-old’s family has not released his surname, only his last initial. A funeral for Nahel was held Saturday in Nanterre.

His killing is now a rallying call, in a similar way that George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020 sparked widespread unrest over the police use of force, particularly against minorities.

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Here’s what’s happening with the protests, and how it all got started.

The teenager was shot Tuesday morning

Similar to the Floyd case in the U.S., videos of Nahel’s encounter with police have amplified public anger and distrust, after eyewitnesses and surveillance video contradicted the official narrative.

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