The UK Warns Citizens Against Traveling To France Amid National Unrest

Due to the massive unrest taking place in France due to an officer killing a teenager, the UK has warned citizens against traveling to France

Officials in the United Kingdom have been warning British nationals recently about not traveling to France. Currently, there are disruptions to road transport and France is likely going to be including curfews very soon. Why is France such a hotbed that the UK is telling its citizens to avoid it? Recently, a teenager was fatally shot by French Police, causing outrage nationwide. The British Government’s Foreign Office said in their travel advice:

“There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable. You should monitor the media,[and] avoid areas where riots are taking place.”

It should also be noted that France’s Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, said on Friday that he sent 45,000 police onto the streets following the past three nights of riots after the officer shot a teenager at a simple traffic stop. The real crux of the issue too was that this traffic stop was in a working-class suburb of Paris. Americans look at this as just another day at the office sadly, but this type of issue does not happen a lot in Europe.

However, like in America, black people in France have dealt with racism for years. It is nothing new to see officers mistreat a black person. Several black people in the country come from numerous African nations. Several of them come to the country due to the schools and other opportunities France offers that they cannot get in their home country. Yet upon doing so, they aren’t always treated fairly.

Reason For The Protests & Riots

Nahel Protest Stand

[Image via Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua via Getty Images]

The name of the young man killed by a police officer in France was Nahel M. He was just 17 years old and of Algerian & Moroccan descent. He was shot on Tuesday in the Nanterre Suburb over a “refus d’obtemperer.” This is when a driver fails to comply with an order to stop given by a uniformed police officer. Not doing so is punishable by as many as two years in prison and a 15,000 euro fine. While this might seem like a lot, it is made such a steep punishment in hopes people will always comply.

The problem with this is that officers can choose to stop someone for pretty much any reason. According to the French Highway Code, an officer can stop a driver to have his or her driving documents checked at any time, even without any visible violation of the law. You can see how this type of thing could be easily abused by officers of the law, right? This is why the teen’s death due to such an incident seems to be sparking such a huge outrage among the people of France.

The death was actually caught on video, which is ultimately what caused the outrage. Even many allies of French Police have cited the officer’s decision to pull his gun as a terrible one, especially to shoot it.

The decision was so terrible that by Friday, the officer involved was charged for it.

Yet many feel the officer never would have been charged if riots were not breaking out in the streets right now.

Yellow Vest Protests:

What is so interesting is that protests against police and inequality aren’t new in France. Known as the “Yellow Vest Protests,” we have been seeing several voicing their displeasure (in yellow vests) with the French government. Among the issues they have protested include police violence, inequality, and economic issues within the country. Often, their protests have become mass demonstrations…similar to what we’re seeing here.

The Bigger Issue At Play

French Riots

[Image via CNN]

The shooting started a wider conversation about the power of the French Police and how many feel segregated from the more prosperous French cities. Many of the poorer or less prosperous citizens, both black & white, feel that the police often make their life harder when they try to go anywhere that does not fit their economic background.

France is not above protesting over, let’s be honest, frivolous things compared to what we see in America. They recently rioted over the retirement age, which almost felt like a French Revolution all over again.

However, this particular riot that has lasted now three days does make sense. We have seen them pop up in cities like Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, & Lille along with the most notable city in the nation, Paris. The officer essentially reignited already festering unrest as many in the towns outside of Paris have cited police violence and racism issues for years, with nothing being done about it.

The riots that have broken out have so far caused millions in damages.

In Paris, shops were broken into and looting took place. Several cars were also set on fire too. This all happened in spite of a huge police presence all over the city. The issue became so bad that bus and tram services to Paris and even the wider region were stopped late Thursday night. Night-time curfews were put in place in some suburbs too.

Meanwhile, in Nanterre, a huge fire was started on the ground floor of a building where a bank is located.

Police Have Been Injured And Unrest Continues

French Police Standing To Stop Riots

[Image via The New York Times]

While France did deploy 40,000 police officers, at least 249 were injured on Wednesday and a few more on Thursday. Most of the injuries were due to attacks on the police, usually in France’s biggest cities where the most significant escalation has been taking place.

Police began clearing protesters from the Place de la Concorde on Friday after an impromptu demonstration. Looters then broke into an Apple Store in Strasbourg and several Casino Supermarkets have been looted as well.

Over 900 people were arrested for their role in the riots so far. Interestingly, the average age of those arrested was 17 years old. Proving the youth of France have had enough after seeing one of their peers killed by an officer.

Sadly, this is the third person that has been shot by an officer in a similar way this year alone. Police violence is an issue but the unrest in the city needs to be controlled before things get further out of hand. Clearly, this is one of President Emmanuel Macron’s biggest crises since taking office. However, protests & riots about these issues have been going on for several years now. He has done nothing to try and stop the problem in spite of this. It might be time to do so before France burns to the ground.

We can see why the United Kingdom has been warning against traveling to France for the time being.