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Massive Wave of Violent Protests Impedes Disney Park Operations, Forces Park to Close Early

disneyland paris sleeping beauty castle fires protestors riots
Credit: Disneyland Paris/Reuters/Canva

A wave of protests following the death of a 17-year-old boy at the hands of police has forced the Parisian Disney Parks to close early.

Disneyland paris sleeping beauty castle dark clouds

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris/Credit: Disneyland Paris/Canva

The country of France has been rocked by protests–some violent–after a teenager was killed by police near the city of Paris earlier this week. The protests have sparked bans on demonstrations, warnings for travelers, closures, and a growing debate on what is described as “an over-policing in marginalized communities.”

According to CNN, demonstrators have set fire to vehicles, climbed onto buildings with broken windows, and clashed with police officers. In response to the growing unrest in the country, French President Emmanuel Macron–in his second term as president–held an emergency meeting with government officials to determine the best course of action for uniting the country amid the violent protests.

What Sparked the Violent Protests?

According to CNN, police shot and killed a 17-year-old named Nahel, who was of Algerian descent, during a traffic stop in the city of Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, France, earlier this week. Footage of the incident captured by an uninvolved bystander allegedly shows two police officers standing on the driver’s side of a vehicle before one officer discharged his weapon, though the officer reportedly faced no immediate threat of danger.

Pascal Prache, a prosecutor in the city of Nanterre, said the officer reported that he fired his gun for fear the teen would run over someone with the vehicle in which he was seated. The prosecutor further stated that it is believed that the officer acted illegally and is currently being investigated for voluntary homicide. The officer has been placed on “preliminary detention.”

protests in France police officers and fires in the streets

Credit: Stephanie Lecocq for Reuters

RELATED: Protests, Strikes Escalate at Disney Park Where Police Helicopters Were Dispatched Overnight

Per CNN:

Protesters have been carrying signs that read “the police kill,” and hundreds of government buildings have been damaged as Nahel’s death taps into anger over racial bias in the country.

Successive nights of violence across France and its overseas territories have, in turn, prompted French officials to launch a crackdown, with more than 40,000 police officers mobilized to patrol cities across the country. Since Tuesday, more than 2,000 people have been detained, and more than 500 police officers and gendarmes have been injured, according to CNN calculations based on numbers released by the Interior Ministry.

Plagued by Protests

The country is still reeling from protests earlier this year against unpopular pension reforms. Strikes brought on by pension reform earlier this year led to transportation nightmares as flights were canceled, and train traffic was severely impaired in major cities across France. The reform involved the push for the retirement age in the French nation to be delayed from age 62 to age 64. And–as expected–the change was met with massive pushback, especially from union workers who were opposed to working 24 months more work before they became eligible to receive retirement benefits.

But when faced with the prospect of strikes, riots, and protests, the French government reportedly promised to stand its ground and urged citizens not to engage in activities that could “paralyze” the country’s operations.

disneyland paris castle with cast members on strike

Cast Members on strike at Disneyland Paris/Credit: DLPReport

In recent weeks, Cast Members at Disneyland Paris, located 20 miles east of Paris, in Chessy, France, have been involved in a series of strikes, protests, and demonstrations at the park, demanding the Disney Company give them better pay and better working conditions. During one day of protests, hundreds of Cast Members paraded through Frontierland at Disneyland Park inside the Parisian Resort, holding banners and signs that read “The Magic Doesn’t Exist Without Us” and “Unhappy Cast Member: Stitch is Showing His Teeth.”

President Emmanuel Macron had recently given himself 100 days to “reset his presidency” and work to unite the country after protests against pension reform overtook areas across France. Those plans may be hampered now as widespread protests over the death of the young teen are being fueled. The French people were angered that Macron attended an Elton John concert on Wednesday, despite the fact that around the country, cars were being burned and structures were being vandalized.

In 2005, the deaths of two teenage boys hiding from police sparked a state of emergency following three weeks of riots and protests in the country. The French government is working to avoid a repeat scenario in 2023. President Macron announced bans on “large-scale events” in the country, including what he described as “celebratory events and numerous gatherings.” Parents were further urged to keep their children at home.

On Saturday, Disneyland Paris will close early, per DLPReport. A tweet posted early Saturday reads, “Both Disneyland Paris Theme Parks will close at 9:30 p.m. tonight due to unrest in France, and to allow Guests and Cast Members to get home safely. Disney Dreams! will not be performed. Disney Village will be closing at 11 p.m.”

 

As this story continues to develop, more information will be shared as it becomes available.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!