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Demonstration in Paris
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Black Lives Matter, in Paris

Memorial Service at Place de la République

Over 2000 Parisians gathered last night at the Place de la République for a memorial service in remembrance of George Floyd, the African-American man killed on May 25th by a policeman in Minneapolis, and in support of the #BlackLivesMatter protests taking place across the United States against systematic racism. It was a solemn event, with eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the length of time the officer kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd, ultimately killing him as horrified bystanders — pleading for it to stop — captured the horror on film.

demonstration in Paris
Several thousand gather in a solemn homage to George Floyd at Place de la République.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in Paris as part of the Covid-19 measures, but police did not attempt to stop the event or disperse the crowd, and there wasn’t any police presence around the Place de la République. On the platform at the front were several speakers organized by SOS Racisme who shared their experiences of racism in France, and a group of French musicians who led the crowd in singing “We Shall Overcome”. It was a peaceful, respectful event. 

Black Lives Matter poster at demonstration
One of the many posters carried by the participants in the demonstration.

Although I’ve been taking the Covid-19 social distancing guidelines seriously from the start, I put on my mask and went anyway to show my support as an American citizen for the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s hard not to feel a personal connection to events happening in Minnesota because it was my last home before moving to France (and therefore where I still vote in US elections), and because there are so many people I still care about in Minneapolis. It really is a wonderful city, so I hope the protests can bring about the much-needed changes in policing there to benefit the entire community.

kneeling crowd
Participants kneel in remembrance of George Floyd.

Protests in Paris

Like many others around the world, people in France have not only condemned the murder in Minneapolis and so many others like it committed throughout the United States, but are also taking a hard look at how racism affects their own country. There were two unauthorized demonstrations in Paris last week, one on Wednesday specifically in response to the controversial ongoing case of a French man, Adama Traoré, who died during his arrest by Gendarmes in 2016, and another on Saturday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement against police violence both in the US and in France.

demonstrators carry protest signs in Paris
Posters for George Floyd and against police brutality.

The first, which spontaneously gathered 20k protestors in front of the Palais de Justice, was dispersed by police with tear gas once projectiles started flying, and several arrests were made. The second, announced if unsanctioned, gave the police time to set up crowd control barricades for the 5,500 protestors outside the US Embassy and the Champ de Mars, and was allowed to proceed peacefully and without incident.

Black Lives Matter protesters in Paris
Black Lives Matter protesters in Paris

How to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement in Paris

Almost two thirds of Secrets of Paris readers are visitors in France, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your tourism euros responsibly by supporting the many wonderful black-owned businesses and services during your stay. Here are just a few (feel free to send suggestions):

Tourism

Entrée to Black Paris Tours

My Parisian Life

Walk the Spirit

Black Paris Tours

Le Paris Noir

Brian Scott Bagley Tourism

Little Africa

Cook’n with Class

Culture

Dinner for One

Après Josephine

Coven Paris

Museum Precious Cargo

Nooru Box

Wine & Wine Services

Girl Meets Glass

Stuyvesant Champagne

Wine et Beauté

Vines by Rosa

Relocation & Property Services

Your Friend in Paris

Paris Mac Immo Services

Time4unow

Pampering

Free Persephone

Colorful Black

Nidra and Sound

Tioka Yoga

Fancy Fresh Soap

Bourgeons de Fleurs

Beauty Toaster

International Beauty Expert

Dining, Food & Catering

BMK

Jah Jah by Le Tricycle

Malro

L’Embuscade

Eolia Patisserie

Sunday in SOHO

Gumbo Yaya

Table Metis

Bek & Veggie

Edwart Chocolatier

More Articles Highlighting Black-Owned Businesses in Paris

50+ Local Black-Owned businesses to support in Paris (by Maya Dorsey of LaVieLocale.com)

Time to Shine a Light on Black-Owned Businesses in France (by Inspirelle contributor Elizabeth Milovidov) with the Google spreadsheet of businesses here.

Black-Owned Businesses in Paris (by Kasia Dietz of Love in the City of Lights)

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