Unrest across France sparked by the police shooting of a 17-year-old appeared to slow on its sixth night, but fires and vandalism continued to target public buildings, cars and municipal trash cans overnight into Monday.
The riots are said to be driven by a teenage backlash. The interior minister informed the average age of those arrested was 17 and that children as young as 12 or 13 had been detained for attacking security people and setting fires.
In all, according to the Interior Ministry, there were 157 arrests overnight out of a total of 3,354 since last Tuesday, and that two law enforcement stations were attacked, among other damages.
“We all have to ask ourselves about the responsibility of families,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
There has been little in the way of organized protests beyond a march last week for Nahel, the teenager shot dead last Tuesday. But many activists say the nighttime riots are a lashing out against a French state that many young people with immigrant roots say routinely discriminates against them.
Nahel was of Algerian descent and was shot in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
About 45,000 security personnel were deployed nationwide to counter violence fueled by anger over discrimination against people who trace their roots to former French colonies and live in low-income neighborhoods.
Across France, 297 vehicles were burnt overnight along with 34 buildings, many of them linked to the government. In all, a total of 99 city halls have been attacked, claims the Interior Ministry.
A 24-year-old firefighter died of a heart attack while responding to a blaze in an underground garage that spread to the apartment building above, according to Paris police. The cause of the fire was under investigation, they said in a statement.
A burning car stuck the home of the mayor of the Paris suburb of L’Hay-les-Roses over the weekend, an unusually personal attack amid the backdrop of fires and vandalism targeting police stations and town halls.
French President Emmanuel Macron has blamed social media for the spread of the unrest and urged on parents to take responsibility for their teenagers. Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told France Inter radio that parents who abdicated that responsibility “either through disinterest or deliberately” would be prosecuted.
He was cautious when asked whether he thought the protests had eased definitively.
Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun said his wife and one of his children were injured and criticized the government for doing too little, too late — and said blaming social media or parents was papering over a bigger problem.
“The base ingredients are still there. For several years now, all summer long, explosives go off that keep people from sleeping, that make them crazy,” he told BFM television on Monday. “We are powerless summer after summer.”