One year in Paris
I grew up in Paris, in the 10th district, close to the attacks sites.
I hadn’t been living there for the past eight years, when I came back in September 2015. I rediscovered the city daily life and came to witness those moments that marked its history.
On the evening of November 13th, the attacks made 130 victims. The shock overcame the politicians’ discourses. The next day, the Parisians spontaneously gathered around the attacked sites.
The state of emergency was declared; events, demonstrations and concerts were prohibited.
Life went on but a leaden weight seemed to descend on Paris.
At the same time, on social networks, on the walls, the slogan “Not even afraid” appeared. Despite the prohibitions, Parisians met at République Square. Bars, parks and public spaces were rarely empty. The need to gather seemed to be irrepressible.
In my neighborhood, the Saint Martin canal was drained for a big cleanup and the urban landscape surprisingly changed: water was missing.
At the end of the winter, trade unions and young people took over the streets against the new labor law. A video showing a high school student severely beaten by members of the riot police was massively shared. The movement quickly became more radical. Every night, for several months, thousands of people gathered at République Square. But this time, it was for dancing! It was the nightly meeting point for debates and unauthorized demonstrations during several weeks.
The slogan “Not even afraid” turned into “Up All Night”. The movement magnitude and persistence were astonishing.
More and more demonstrators were seriously injured by the police. Until November, Parisians appeared to support the forces but on May 1st demonstration, thousands of people ended up in Nation Square screaming : “Everybody hates the police”. Nevertheless, the government didn’t give in and maintained the new labor law. With the arrival of summer, the city came back to its normal activities, although there have been one million less tourists than the year before.