Advertisement
News

Photo essay: Celebrating life and brotherhood following Paris attacks

PARIS — Last weekend started with a spree of violence that shook the City of Light, but ended with an outpouring of hope and appreciation for life and brotherhood.

I watched my friends stumble into my flat in tears just after 10 p.m. Friday night. They’d ran from a shooting about a 10-minute walk away from my home. We thought it was a one-off event, but once we turned on the news, we learned it was one in a handful of targeted attacks across the city.

We stayed indoors. We listened to the police sirens and helicopters outside the window until the early hours of Saturday morning.

READ MORE: Global News reporter’s account of Paris attacks

When we woke up and headed outdoors, Paris was covered in police tape. Place de la Republique — typically buzzing with skateboarders, commuters and vendors, had a sombre vibe. This is where locals came together to hold candlelight vigils and gatherings following the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo last January.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Eyewitnesses give terrifying account of the Paris shootings

On Rue Bichat, where at least 10 people died, a single row of flowers and candles were left outside of Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge. There was still sawdust on the ground to absorb the blood from the previous night’s tragedy.

12240987_10153026285652132_4807182604636965894_o

11250078_10153026289502132_4176158337484136362_o

12239276_10153026290302132_4238684742487091994_o

I interviewed locals, who each had their own story to tell: one woman knew a handful of the victims who were inside of Le Petit Cambodge. They were 19, maybe 20 years old, she said. She left them a bouquet of flowers, she was in tears.

Story continues below advertisement

Another man, Etienne Faux, watched a single gunman walk down the street from his apartment window. He called his roommate to tell him not to come home. His roommate thought he was telling a joke.

I went home to file stories, but when I came back out, the crowds — at Place de la Republique and on Rue Bichat — were overwhelming. People left piles of candles, paper and markers by the sites, so that anyone could light a candle and share their message.

By Sunday afternoon, the streets were packed, terraces were full, and locals were going about their day. If you wanted to light a candle or leave a message at Republique, or in front of the restaurants, you were among hundreds who were trying to do the same. The single row of flowers I saw on Saturday morning has turned into — literally — heaping piles.

I did radio interviews and was asked repeatedly: Are the French angry? Are they blaming anyone?

No. Every message I’ve read, and in every interview I’ve conducted, I’ve only heard of hope, of staying strong and resilient. The focus has been on appreciating life, of a return to brotherhood, of sending condolences to those who lost their lives and to their families.

Here’s what my friends and I have captured in the days following the attacks.

Story continues below advertisement

12265939_10153027471212132_3739584344853536726_o

“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as idiots”

11224744_10153027473197132_6093563208448765966_o

12191173_10153027475547132_9218584017497581720_o

12238275_10153027473582132_7500089696784302946_o

12239391_10153027472577132_177723368323934704_o

“Not afraid”

Story continues below advertisement

12239437_10153027474667132_7651387220291633953_o

12239438_10153027473132132_3705283113961138577_o

12244366_10153027477107132_8756884577436520860_o

12244421_10153027472747132_4812995241266666084_o

12247702_10153027477552132_1024970882371643637_o

“Liberté, égalité, fraternité” or “Freedom, equality, fraternity”

Story continues below advertisement

12265533_10153027475487132_6535766225601391289_o

12265745_10153027476337132_2265984450905425979_o

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca