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French show solidarity at town halls targeted in rioting

NANTERRE, FRANCE (AP) – Crowds gathered at town halls across France on Monday to show solidarity with local governments targeted in six nights of violence touched off by the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old in suburban Paris.

The unrest, which appeared to be easing on Sunday night, was driven by a mainly teenage backlash in the suburbs and urban housing projects against a French state that many young people with immigrant roots say routinely discriminates against them. In all, 99 town halls have been attacked in the violence, the Interior Ministry said, including a weekend attempt to ram the home of one mayor and apparently set it afire.

In the municipality of l’Hay-les-Les Roses in the southern suburbs of Paris, hundreds of people gathered on Monday to support Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun, whose wife and one of his young children were injured when a car set afire by rioters rammed into his home early on Sunday.

It was an unusually personal attack that authorities said would be prosecuted as an attempted homicide, and it prompted an outpouring of support for local governments in many towns where the city hall is often literally central to public life.

“We saw the real face of the rioters, that of assassins,” Jeanbrun said in an emotional speech. France and “democracy itself” were being attacked in days of rioting. “This won’t last last,” the mayor said, adding that the “silent majority” is speaking out to say “Stop. This is enough!” The crowd responded with the chant “Enough!”

President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise visit to a northern Paris district reportedly to thank security officials for their work, according to French media reports.

Video showed Macron and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin entering the building in the 17th district where a specialised night brigade is headquartered.

There has been little in the way of organised protests beyond a march last week for Nahel, the 17-year-old French man of Algerian descent who was killed last Tuesday in the Paris suburb of Nanterre by a white police officer.

Instead, the anger has manifested in young people targeting police, with both sides using increasingly aggressive tactics.

People gather in front of the city hall, in Lyon, central France, in a show of solidarity with the mayor of the Paris suburb of L’Hay-les-Roses. PHOTO: AP