Unrest sparked by an incident in which a motorcyclist hit a police car in a Paris suburb has been reported across France, highlighting growing tensions caused by a strict lockdown.
In a fourth night of violence and vandalism, a primary school was on Tuesday evening partially destroyed by a fire in a northwest suburb of Paris and police in another district said that fireworks had been aimed at them.
In Toulouse, several garbage cans and vehicles were set alight, and incidents were also reported in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Versailles and Lyon.
The unrest spread after a trail motorbike ridden at speed on Saturday last week by a man not wearing a helmet hit the door of a police car, which was stopped at a red light in the suburb of Villeneuve-la-Garenne.
Witnesses said that an officer had deliberately opened the door, which the police denied.
Investigations have begun.
The 30-year-old unnamed motorcyclist who sustained a broken leg on Tuesday evening issued a plea for calm to those on the streets through his lawyer.
“I understand that you’ve smashed up cars. I ask you to go home and calm down,” he said in a video filmed in a hospital.
French lawmaker Stephane Peu, who representse the Seine-Saint-Denis area outside of Paris — home to some of France’s most run-down outer-city housing projects — on Wednesday told a legislative committee: “Compared to what sadly happens far too often and too easily, the number of people involved and the seriousness of the incidents is still quite low.”
The Paris police prefecture has banned the purchase or possession of fireworks in the city and three surrounding departments until Monday next week.
In the Rillieux-la-Pape commune of Lyon, a group of 30 young people on Monday evening destroyed a bus stop, burned garbage cans, smashed the windshields of several cars and damaged the entrance of the primary school, reportedly shouting: “That’s for Villeneuve-la-Garenne.”
Describing the young people as “cretins, idiots and imbeciles,” Rillieux-la-Pape Mayor Alexandre Vincendet said: “They wouldn’t even know where to find Villeneuve-la-Garenne on a map... It’s just an excuse to smash things up.”
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