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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
Wine & Wine Services
Relocation & Property Services
Dining, Food & Catering
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)