Below are a group of photos forwarded to me by our friend Kareem who sometimes works in Paris (he composes and arranges film scores –among other music projects — check out his latest effort for a film called “Encounter Point” that was recently shown at the Tribeca film fest, and will be shown at the SF Intl Film Fest May 1 and 3):
April In Paris…
…well… at least the hotel rates will be cheap.
These are some photos from my friend Bruce who lives
Subject: FW: boulevard Saint Michel
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 08:44:11 +0200
Sorry if I sent these already. Just thought you might be interested. These
pictures were taken by a friend (of a friend) of mine who is a photographer
for the Associated Press in Paris.
All of these photos (layed out in no particular order that I can tell) were labeled “Boulevard Saint Michel” and a few were also labeled “Saturday” which I assume indicates the location and date of the images.
Can you fill us in, Bro?
One thought on “I Love Paris In The Springtime”
Well, the bottom line, a week or so after the main demonstrations, is that the government has withdrawn the law that had gotten the students’ panties in such a wad.
As for these photos, it’s well known that a picture can tell 1000 words. However, unless you know what’s going on, those 1000 words may as well be in Greek or Chinese or, let’s say, French. Pictures of riot squads detaining people amid burning cars and huge throngs of demonstrators in the streets would seem to say it all. Or not. Here’s what I understand to be the main points of this story:
1. The center-right government tried to introduce what the French would call an “Anglo-Saxon capitalist” job-creation law. The students, who generally tend toward the left, as in most countries, objected. Since the law was meant to be primarily for their benefit, many of them were offended. They decided to, as the Doobies used to croon, take it to the streets.
2. The government refused to budge (altho there was quite a bit of politicking going on among the various prospective presidential candidates in the ruling party — the election will be in ’07).
3. The demonstrations were very large — over a million according to the low-ball police estimate, three million according to the students and their lefty sympathizers, who also took part.
4. Whenever you get a million people in the streets at once, funny things happen. Anyone who’s ever been to Times Square on New Year’s Eve knows that one of those things is petty crime. These demonstrations were no exception. Small groups of anarchists and petty criminals calling themselves “casseurs” (which means “people who break things”) decided that it would be fun to use these huge demonstrations as an excuse to a) vandalize (as you can see in some of these photos), and b) pick pockets or simply mug demonstrators, sometimes rather brutally (which was frequently caught on tape by amateur videographers). The students themselves often tried to surround and the casseurs and offer them up to the police (which is more than likely what you are seeing in some of the pics of cops subduing youngsters).
5. After the two main days of demonstrations, there have been many other more creative disruptions, such as a few hundred students flooding the railroad tracks of a major train station to prevent the trains for moving or the like. According to numerous polls, the public generally sympathizes with the students and their right to voice their concerns in this way and yet they also respect the fact that the government is trying to come up with new laws. So what if I’m a few hours late to work one day, this is how laws get made. There were demonstrations in Montpellier, which is a college town, but not much in the way of casseurs or the kinds of scenes shown in these pics. We personally weren’t affected at all since we didn’t happen to need to go into town on those days and weren’t scheduled to fly or take the train anywhere.
6. Yesterday, the government backed down but the prime minister (one of the presidential aspirants) did not admit defeat. He is, of course, like any other politician. He main rival, the interior minister, laid conspicuously low (something he was previously thot incapable of doing) during the whole affair and as he makes boilerplate remarks, if any at all, about the whole affair, he is widely perceived to be smugly reveling in his collegue’s defeat.