Sports teacher Benjamin Belaidi held a banner reading "no justice, no peace" as he marched in memory of the teenager shot dead by French police, weary of what he described as repressive policing and an absent state in city suburbs.

The 38-year-old Belaidi, who grew up in one of the low-income housing estates that ring France's towns and cities, was among thousands who marched peacefully to denounce what many in the banlieues (suburbs) say is a culture of police violence and systemic racism within law enforcement.

"They are not 'guardians of the peace,' they don't even enforce order — they enforce disorder," Belaidi said, reflecting the view of many around him.