On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, a 17-year-old boy named Nahel M. (also spelled Nael) was driving a yellow Mercedes, believed to be a rental car, without a license in the Parisian northern banlieue (suburb), Nanterre.

At some point, the police pulled the car over, got out, and during the exchange between the officers and Nahel, Nahel pulled the car away. As he drove off, an officer discharged his weapon, the vehicle swerved, crashed, and roughly an hour later, Nahel was declared dead at a hospital. According to the UK Independent, the officer discharged the weapon, fearing the car would hit either his colleague or himself. Since the incident, the officer has been charged with voluntary homicide. The death of a minor is a tragedy, and I hope a full investigation occurs and France’s justice system holds the right people accountable.

Since Tuesday, there have been violent riots all over Paris. And the numbers paint a clear picture. Nearly 40,000 police officers have been deployed across France. There have been over 660 arrests and nearly 250 police injured. Schools, police stations, and businesses were burned and looted. In fact, a large bus that offers free heart health care to women was also destroyed in the looting and rioting.

The simple fact is that justice will not happen through violent riots, lighting cars on fire, or destroying schools (all of those are happening). In fact, it is quite the opposite.

This week, public transportation was delayed, forcing workers to take Ubers to their place of employment—including low-wage workers (AKA people who don’t have an extra 20€ to spend). Tonight my in-laws will spend Shabbat alone in their apartment, as it is too dangerous to stay for dinner in their neighborhood. For the record, my in-laws, like many French Jews, are Tunisian Jews who fled Tunisia as refugees in the 1960’s.

Riots and violence that hurt everyday people will not bring back 17-year-old Nahel M. France’s leadership—including President Macron, mayors of major cities, and ministers—must use justice and law to hold accountable the police officer who shot Nahel M. and the rioters perpetuating a culture of fear, lawlessness, and destruction.