France’s Macron says riots ‘peak’ passed
French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday met with hundreds of French officials to begin exploring the "deeper reasons" for the country's plunge into riots after the killing of a teenager at a traffic stop.
The Elysee palace meeting with around 250 mayors, whose municipalities suffered damage over a week of violence, comes as the authorities reported a much calmer night across the country.
"Is it a permanent return to calm? I will be cautious, but the peak that we've seen in previous days has passed," Macron said, according to a participant.
"We all want a lasting, republican order," he said. "That's the absolute priority."
The government has battled riots and looting since 17-year-old Nahel M. was killed by an officer during a traffic stop last Tuesday just outside Paris, rekindling long-standing accusations of systemic racism among security forces.
Overnight violence in French cities had halved in 24 hours, the interior ministry said, with 72 people arrested overnight nationwide.
That included 24 arrested in and around Paris, where the riots first broke out.
The interior ministry said dozens of buildings were damaged -- including attacks on four offices of police or gendarmes -- but there were no injuries.
More than 150 vehicles had been set ablaze, and hundreds of fires started in rubbish bins or other public areas.
Police mobilisation had been kept at the same level as the two previous nights, at 45,000 across France.
Mayors across France had held rallies Monday calling for an end to the violent clashes.
Their call for a "return to republican order" came after the home of the mayor of a Paris suburb was rammed with a burning car, prompting widespread outrage.
In an overnight tweet, Macron thanked police, gendarmes and firefighters for their "extraordinary mobilisation in these recent nights", after meeting with police late Monday.
At the gathering of mayors, Macron was hoping to "start the painstaking, long-term work needed to understand the deeper reasons that led to these events", an official at the president's office said.