Manifestation in Progress
There has been a lot of buzz about the manifestation, or protest, that is taking place in Paris today, in reaction to the government passing a law called the CPE, having to do with labor, employment, and the under-30 set. I won't get into the politics of it--there's plenty of that sort of thing going on around the net. However, I live very close to the Place d'Italie, and began hearing the roar of the crowd and the screetch of the whistles starting at approximately 11 AM today. Last night the police used red and white tape to block off parking and most of the streets nearby (perhaps to prevent car burning.) There are huge colored balloons floating over the Place d'Italie, keeping watch over the crowds of people with banners, flags, balloons and stickers, as they stand around talking, occasionally chanting, smoking cigarettes and eating the hotdogs provided by the concession stand.
As I walked over to my local grocery to get some coffee, chocolate, and beverages, I snapped a few photos. Unfortunately, the police saw me.
- Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle!
Are you a journalist?
No. I am a blogger.
Yeah. I do a blog. On the internet.
You can't take pictures. It is forbidden.
I can't? Huh. I didn't know that. (Though I didn't see anyone else taking photos, come to think of it.) Oh. Sorry. I didn't know. I'm not French. I don't know the french laws.
You aren't french?
No. I am american.
I'll need your card.
(No way! You are totally not taking this card! It cost way too much and don't even think about...)
Um, how about if I erase them?
OK. You can erase.
My heart was beating a rapid staccato as I tried to push the correct miniscule buttons on my camera to get rid of the offending photos. He stood looking over my shoulder as I dutifully brought up the last 6 pictures I had taken, hit delete and OK. Then he stopped. I asked, "Ca suffit?" He answered, "Oui."
I told him I thought his armor was neat. Kind of like the knights of the past. I don't think he quite believed I was for real, but I was. (I was being honest--it's kind of cool looking.)
Little did he know, I had taken about 30 photos. And I have one of him in his armor.
I stowed my camera in my purse, and went in to get my groceries, finding a nearly empty store. No waits at the checkout, and the whole operation took about 3 minutes, including the 1 minute 30 seconds I took to decide what kind of chocolate to buy. (Milka Alpine Lait this time.) As I left, more police were waiting outside the grocery store, and eyed me suspiciously as I walked to the escalator.
I walked through the mall toward the exit, and decided to go up a level to see the protest from above. It was beautiful--a sea of people and bright red, blue, yellow and white balloons and banners.
A security guard gave me 4 seconds to look, and then told me to either keep going up or go down. I said I wanted to take a picture, because it was such a good view.
- C'est interdit. (It's forbidden.)
Of course it is.
Disappointed, I took the escalator back down and fought my way through the crowd back to our apartment, getting bonked in the head with people's umbrellas, fighting through the litter which seemed to be everywhere, and trying to pass by the hundreds of thousands of people who were basically just standing there, stickers protesting the CPE slapped on their backs, arms, and behinds.
It will be interesting to see what the day brings.
*Note: forbidden to photograph the police, not the protest. Check my Flickr for more photos. I'll keep the police ones to myself.