in Nanterre, a fresco pays tribute to Nahel M. and recounts the “experience of the neighborhood”

It is a fresco which tells the story of a day that changed, that of June 27, 2023, the date on which Nahel M., a young 17-year-old resident of the Pablo-Picasso district of Nanterre, was killed by a police officer. following a traffic stop. It appears in the form of a chronological story. Before the drama: ordinary life in the city on a hot summer day, children cycling at the foot of the towers, friends eating a kebab and sharing the same passion for motorbikes. After the tragedy: burning cars, destroyed bus shelters, then a white march which brought together thousands of people. Finally, a final sequence, embodied by an image, that of Nahel M.’s room, as he had left it, with a PSG flag above his TV, a PlayStation controller on a piece of furniture, two motorcycle helmets placed on the ground and a portrait of him, as a child, all smiles.

Friday, February 9, residents of the Pablo-Picasso neighborhood marched, phones in hand, in front of the 6 meter by 15 meter wall on which this fresco in homage to Nahel M. had just been installed. Created by five of his friends, this graphic creation, composed of several dozen photographs, was inaugurated in the presence of the mayor of Nanterre, Raphaël Adam (various left), the president of the Nanterre Coop’ Habitat HLM office, Hassan Hmani, and the mother of Nahel M., eight months after the unprecedented riots which affected the city. A project supported by most local actors, thought of as both a tribute, an archive and a desire to offer a story of events that corresponds to the “neighborhood experience”we can read in a text which accompanies the fresco.

The initiative began in the wake of the riots. The wall which now houses this creation was initially the subject of tension. In question: a tag “Fuck the police”, written after the death of Nahel M. From September, the public authorities tried to erase it by repainting the facade of the building. Nothing helps: in just a few hours, the tag reappears. The death of Nahel M. increased tenfold the permanent level of tension with the police. When talking about this event, the author of the tag speaks in the plural and says: “They killed us. »

During the inauguration of the fresco dedicated to the memory of Nahel M., in Nanterre, February 9, 2024.

Round table with the mayor

In total, dozens of inscriptions covered the facades of buildings during the nights of revolt. Among them, “Justice for Nahel” or “Fight the power”, in reference to the famous song by the American rap group Public Enemy. Tags as an outlet? “We didn’t want to talk to journalists because we don’t trust them. On the other hand, I wanted when they arrived in the neighborhood, they would see our messages everywhere on the walls. It was my way of alerting people to what was happening.”continues the author of the tag.

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