France is set to deploy 40,000 officers on Thursday evening amid fears of a third night of rioting in the capital triggered by the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old boy.
Bus and tram services are also set to shut down early so they are not “targets for thugs and vandals”, a Paris region official has said.
Buildings and vehicles were set on fire as thousands took to the streets after a video emerged of a teenager, identified only by his first name Nahel, who was shot during a traffic stop on Tuesday in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.
The footage has shocked France and stirred up long-simmering tensions between police and young people in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The police officer who fired the fatal shot will be investigated for voluntary homicide after an initial investigation concluded that “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met”.
Ministers appealed for calm as they gathered for a crisis meeting this morning.
Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said: “The professionals of disorder must go home.
“The state’s response will be extremely firm,” he added.
The minister also confirmed that the number of officers on duty tonight would more than quadruple – from 9,000 to 40,000 – with the number of officers deployed in the Paris region alone more than doubled to 5,000.
Demonstrations spread to other towns on Wednesday night despite an increased police presence.
Protesters shot fireworks and threw stones at police in Nanterre, who returned with repeated volleys of tear gas.
Schools, police stations, town halls and other public buildings were damaged from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north as police and firefighters struggled to contain the riots and extinguish several fires.
But a spokesperson for the national police said most of the damage was in the Paris suburbs.
Mr Darmanin said 170 officers had been injured in the unrest but their injuries were not life-threatening.
The local prosecutor in Nanterre, Pascal Prache, said officers tried to stop Nahel because he looked so young and was driving a Mercedes with Polish license plates in a bus lane.
He ran a red light to avoid being stopped but got stuck in a traffic jam.
Both officers involved said they drew their guns to prevent him from fleeing.
According to Mr Prache, the officer who fired a single shot said he feared he and his colleague or someone else could be hit by the car.
A lawyer for Nahel’s family told the Associated Press they want the police officer prosecuted for murder instead of manslaughter.
French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency meeting on Thursday about the violence.
“These acts are totally unjustifiable,” Mr Macron said at the beginning of the meeting, which aimed at securing hot spots and planning for the coming days “so full peace can return”.
French activists renewed calls to tackle what they see as systemic police abuse, particularly in neighborhoods where many residents struggle with poverty and racial or class discrimination.