Liberté d’expression !

This story needs no introduction. Last night I was at Place de la Republique, taking some photos for Planet Waves.

Place de la République.  January 7, 2015.

Place de la République. January 7, 2015.

When I went back a second time (the shooting, the assembly, it’s all in my neighborhood) the crowds were a little smaller, maybe a few thousand people. They were yelling “Liberté d’expression, liberté des crayons!” and “Je suis Charlie, Je suis Charlie!”

Then, a man standing on the statue shouted “SHHHHHHH!” and asked us all for a minute of silence to honor the fallen police officers. Since getting thousands of people to be quiet can be complicated, after maybe 5 minutes, the info made its way around and the Place de la Republique was pretty darn quiet. Quite remarkable.

Except this one guy, who continued to speak, explaining that he didn’t see why we should have a minute of silence for them, they’re police officers, it’s their job, etc. He kept going on and on, in a calm, monotonous, but very loud voice. The only voice talking. A few people shushed him and then some guy shouted, pretty violently, “TA GEULE!” (“SHUT UP!!”) And then, we heard the voice of a young woman cry out “Liberté d’expression, liberté d’expression!”

That got a laugh, then some hand-holding and about 30 seconds of silence.

I have never seen such an enormous assembly of people in one place in Paris. And I’ve been to countless gatherings and protests. It reminded me of when I went to Daley Plaza in Chicago on September 12th, 2001, where I understood how powerful is the sound of thousands of people in silence and solidarity.

Place de la République, January 7th, 2015, about 6:30pm.  Assembly of Parisians in honor of those who died at the newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Place de la République, January 7th, 2015, about 6:30pm. Assembly of Parisians in honor of those who died at the newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

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