We all arrived at the airport on Nov 28, excited and ready to go.
As soon as we landed in Paris, we began to catch news of mass protests in La Republique, a square in central Paris. We freshened up and headed out within the hour.
We walked for a few blocks since the metro to La Republique was shut down because of the protests. We could tell we were close to the site because we saw blue flashing lights in the distance. Only hours before, police were tear gassing and clashing with protesters in the square. France has banned public demonstrations (though seemingly selectively) for the next three months since the terrorist attacks a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, still, Parisians protested in solidarity with the 600,000 people in 175 countries that simultaneously marched for strong action on climate change.
By the time we made it to La Republique the police were controlling the crowds, but people still chanted “Paris, speak!” and spoke in unison for climate justice. People stood on the window sills and on top of bus stations, making noise and chanting slogans about the environment and military.
The police had blocked off the central square and cornered and segmented off much of the crowd, but the protesters persisted.
Climate change is on Paris’ tongue – billboards, posters, TV ads and fliers line the streets in anticipation for what hopefully will be a productive next two weeks of negotiations at the COP21.
Clara B. Perez