The grandmother of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, who was fatally shot by a police officer in a Paris suburb last week, has called for an end to the violent protests that have swept the country since his death.
Merzouk’s grandmother appealed to protesters on Sunday, telling CNN’s affiliate BFMTV: “They should not damage the schools, not break the buses, it was the moms who take the buses.”
“I’m tired,” said the grandmother, identified as Nadia by BMFTV.
Nahel’s mother, she added, “doesn’t have a life anymore.”
Nightly protests have erupted in cities across France and its overseas territories over the past week, with protesters expressing fury and accusations over how France’s marginalized communities are policed, and raising questions over whether race was a factor in Nahel’s death.
The French government has responded strictly to the continuing violent unrest, deploying more than 45,000 police and gendarmes across the country on Sunday night alone.
Over 2,000 people have been detained since protests began, with 157 detained overnight Sunday into Monday morning local time, according to the French Ministry of Interior.
Many of those detained throughout the protest movement are minors, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said Saturday, adding that their average age is 17 years old. He added that police were under orders to “avoid another drama” following Nahel’s death, referring to rioters as “thugs.”
Authorities should “talk to the neighborhoods, and to be firm with these thugs. I think that is a good equilibrium,” he said. “There should be no social excuses where there are none.”
The officer who shot Nahel has been charged with voluntary homicide and placed in preliminary detention, the prosecutor of Nanterre said earlier in the week. A GoFundMe page created by a far-right TV pundit in support of the officer’s family had raised over 1 million dollars by Monday.
Another crowdfunding page in support of Nahel’s mother raised just over a quarter of that, the equivalent of about $263,000. Nahel “leaves behind a mother torn apart by the loss of her only son. She needs our support to face the long trials that lie ahead,” it read.
The boy’s funeral was held on Saturday at a local mosque amid a heavy security presence.
French President Emmanuel Macron is soon expected to launch a procedure to “understand deeply” the cause of the unrest, a source present at a meeting between Macron and his top officials Sunday told CNN.
Macron will meet with the president of French’s lower and upper houses Monday, and with 220 mayors across France on Tuesday, according to the source.
The French government is also expected to spend an estimated 20 million euros (nearly $21.77 million) to repair municipal CCTV equipment damaged before the end of the summer, the French Interior Minister said.
In one high-profile example of the destruction that has taken place during some riots, the mayor of a Paris suburb said Sunday that his home had been attacked, calling it “an assassination attempt” on his family.
“At 1:30 a.m., while I was at the city hall like the past three nights, individuals rammed their car upon my residence before setting fire to it to burn my house, inside which my wife and my two young children slept,” said mayor Vincent Jeanbrun of L’Haÿ-les-Roses, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, in a statement.
“While trying to protect the children and escape the attackers, my wife and one of my children were injured.”
The Créteil prosecutor’s office has classified the incident as an “attempted murder,” prosecutor Stéphane Hardouin told reporters Sunday.
Hardouin said the initial findings of a police investigation suggest that a flaming car “was launched to burn down the pavilion,” entering Jeanbrun’s property at around 1:30am local time.
“Hitting a low wall, the vehicle stopped… before it could reach the veranda of the house. Only the front gate was hit, along with the family’s vehicle,” the prosecutor said in a news conference outside the mayor’s home.
He said the mayor’s wife and two children, aged 5 and 7, fled through the back garden. While running away, the mayor’s wife hurt her shin which “appears to be broken,” according to the prosecutor.
Hardouin also said forensic police have found a fire accelerant in a bottle of Coke. He didn’t specify which substance the accelerant was.
“Every effort will be made to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” the prosecutor concluded.
On Monday, several hundred supporters marched in the suburb to show their solidarity with Jeanbrun.
Locals and officials held up a banner which said: “Together for the republic!”
China has also warned its citizens in France to remain vigilant after a bus carrying a Chinese tour group in the southern city of Marseille had its windows smashed, resulting in multiple minor injuries, the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday.
China’s Consulate General in Marseille has lodged an official complaint and urged French authorities to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and property amid the unrest.
The ministry did not say when the incident took place or how many people were injured. It said all the tourists on the group have since left France.