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Violent confrontations between protesters and police have erupted in scores of suburban municipalities across France. On 27 June a motorcycle police officer killed a 17-year-old resident of Nanterre – Nahel M. – via gunshot at close range. A video clip of the incident – which contradicted police reports of Nahel using his vehicle as a weapon – subsequently went viral, inspiring protests across the country.

Demonstrators have acted aggressively and systematically with a clear modus operandi. First the protesters create burning barricades – often consisting of cars and trash cans – that draw out firefighters and police. Protesters then attack the police columns with fireworks, Molotov cocktails, rocks, bottles, and in at least one case, a grenade.

The protesters have leveraged their knowledge of the neighborhoods, young people on scooters as scouts, and predictable police patterns to launch highly effective ambushes. Protesters have also set alight hundreds of cars, at least a dozen official buildings, including city halls and police stations.

  • More than 160 police and gendarmes were injured, some seriously.
  • Roughly 150 protesters have been arrested since the shooting.
  • 40,000 additional police officers have been deployed including 5,000 in Paris.
  • There are videos of what appear to be military personnel reinforcing the police in areas.

Impacted Areas

Videos have emerged depicting heavy clashes including the forced retreat of police in Nanterre, Toulouse, Lille, Rennes, Lyon, Dammarie-les-Lys, Saint-Denis, Vigneux-sur-Seine, Asineres, Montreuil, Creil, Clichy, La Courneuve, Garges les Gonnesse, and other cities.

  • Protesters raided a police station in Lille, taking substantial quantities of police equipment.
  • A large portion, if not the totality, of the police vehicles in the municipality of Dammarie-les-Lys were destroyed.
  • An unidentified man in Vigneux-sur-Seine destroyed multiple surveillance cameras using a rifle.
  • Trams and buses were set on fire in Calmart and Viry Chatillon.
  • In Maison d’Arret de Fresnes, RAID (French SWAT) was deployed to prevent a prison-break as protesters attempted to storm a correctional facility.
  • In Clichy-sous-Bois, an unidentified man was filmed throwing a grenade at police.


  • While the level of violence exhibited in the suburbs has yet to replicate itself in central Paris, there are demonstrations planned for the night of 29 June and the days that follow.
  • The severity of these protests largely depends on the police reaction. Historically, French police have responded to protests against police violence with heavy handed tactics. The employment of tear-gas, watercannons, concussion grenades, and other less-lethal weaponry against protesters is already widespread.
  • President Macron and other officials have called for calm and the officer who shot Nahel has been arrested and charged with murder - homocide voluntaire.
  • However, given the population’s general frustration with Macron’s government and the police, it is unlikely that the situation will stabilize quickly. The unrest – combined with ongoing aviation strikes  – will seriously impede travel throughout France for days if not weeks to come. Potentially violent demonstrations in Paris are likely forthcoming.


Global Guardian is closely monitoring the situation and can support clients who need assistance with local teams in the area to provide:

  • Emergency response
  • Safe transport
  • Ground intelligence reports

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