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Toulouse: Re-sis-tance!

by Alex in Toulouse Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 04:58:38 AM EST

"Ré-sis-tance" ... is the slogan that punctuated yesterday's demonstration here in Toulouse.

Never had I seen a demonstration this big here in Toulouse, and never had I been so moved by the word "resistance" pronounced one syllable at a time.

This diary may end up being less interesting to browse than the previous one (ie. there were less things to report as I stayed in the same privileged spot for a long period of time), but it will give you a much better appreciation of the size of the demonstration than the last one did (this was the purpose I was aiming for today).

From our reporter on the street...from the diaries - whataboutbob


As I set out to reach the starting point of the demo, I have to pause as it starts raining. I perceive this as bad news.

But, not even 3 minutes later, the clouds vanish ...

As I reach the Place Arnaud Bernard, I see that some guys are placing loudspeakers on a truck.

And something tells me that this mega balloon and I will meet again, soon enough.

The Place Arnaud Bernard starts to fill up with people. The demonstration hasn't started yet. The white sign on the right says: "The sea is no longer below the pavement bricks", a reference to a 1968 slogan (about the sand revealed by demonstrators when they would pick up pavement bricks to throw at policemen)

The starting point will be in front of a McDonald's. How is that for symbolism?

People start lining up, the "Intermittents" are here as you can see (musicians, comedians, who have a specific unemployment & work contract).

I get these two guys to pose for me. The sign says: "The silence of the lambs will be achieved through the resignation of the wolves".

Pablo Seban is here (boy with white shirt standing up), riding the same truck as last time (in my previous diary I mistook his clique for high-schools students, but they're university students).
Libération has an article on him, but it's in French.

Do you recongize the heads on pikes from my last diary?

Ok the demonstration is about to start, I've gone a few hundred meters in front, and I've decided that I'll find a high perching spot and take pictures from above.

Ok, that's it, here they come. My camera is about 3.5 meters off the ground, in the middle of a large boulevard. (ps: I stayed here for a very long time, hoping to make you feel the size of the demonstration. Unfortunately this means that I could only take pictures on my left or behind me, so I missed some of the stuff going on on the other half of the street)

The sign near the middle of the picture is a parody of a Health Warning on cigarette packs, and says: "The Right (wing) is dangerous for society's health".

Here come Pablo Seban and the other local youth movement figures, but they're not chanting the same slogan as last time, today they are saying (and the crowd picks it up loudly too):
"To people who don't like the Young, the Young answer ... Ré-sis-tance! In schools they answer ... Ré-sis-tance! In universities they answer ... Ré-sis-tance!"

A small view from behind me ... you can see that the demonstration has only just started (as we can see the front).

These two signs, held together by two girls, say: "Villepin (prime minister), you're just like wallpaper. You look good, but you're useless".

Check out how fast the crowd is moving (see the truck with Pablo Seban on the right)

Like I said, I'm at a disadvantageous vantage point, as I can only take pictures on one side of the street (there is a woman on the other side with whom I chat all along). Ironically, the sign in front of us says "Prudence". When you look at my pictures from this vantage point, remember that whatever you see on my side of the street, is only half of what's going on.

The red arrow on the left hand side shows where the front of the demonstration is at by now.

This is the last picture where you can see the front. After that it becomes blurry.

A rock band truck passes by. Forgot the lyrics, but they were quite funny.

Again, just to give you an idea of the size of the demonstration, check out the rock band truck here on the right.

I turn for a short while to see who's yet to come.

And by now the rock band truck is far ahead (see arrow)

I took this picture for DoDo. "Cheminots" are the field employees of the national train company.

At times I can only take pictures of what's behind me, because my vantage point is invaded constantly by people who want a share of it (and I then have to shift, and it's tricky because I barely have enough room to stand where I am).

Meanwhile the crowd keeps coming. All sorts of professions are represented. For now it's mainly civil servants passing by.

The girl with a red scarf has a sign that says: "I'm 15 years old, full of life and hope. To say "NO" to the CPE is to say "YES" to my future".

I have no idea who MicroTurbo are, but I take it as a sign that the private sector is represented on the street today.

People just keep coming ... the 15 year old girl with the sign I mentioned above is indicated with an arrow.

I took this picture for the stormy present, who was curious about all the littering paper shown in my last diary. There is a van carrying a machine that spits out paper into the air.

--
--
At this point in time, I remembered that my camera had a movie feature, so I thought I could take a movie. But I suck at this, and it would have been better for me to take a movie in which you could hear the "Ré-sis-tance" slogan. But it's worth what's it's worth.

Format is QuickTime .mov & Size: a bit over 11 megabytes. Link to the movie file
--
--

I forgot to mention that some people living nearby in a social building (poor families) are watching from their balconies.

What is DoDo doing in the crowd, wearing a USSR teeshirt??

Here come the telecom guys ...

Will it ever end?

Another private sector company ... EADS (you know, which includes Airbus ...)

The Hospitals of Toulouse ...

Nurses and staff from the hospital group pull a sitting stunt.

A father has either found the most convenient way to move his kid around, or he is making a symbolic reference to what the CPE will do to our kids ...

As you can see, there is no end to this crowd ... meanwhile I'm getting cramps. People keep on asking me stuff from down below: "can you see the front?" ... "here can you take a picture with my camera?" etc etc

See all the smoke in the background?

Ok, I'm running out of things to tell you. But if you bear along with me, the final photos are really interesting as they give a good impression of the size of the demonstration.

Alcatel (private) passes by ...

Hey does this guy think he's at a soccer match or what?

Hi, my name is Alex. I've got nothing to say, really.

Ah, someone is sticking something on the pillar I've climbed on. It says: "Television is lying! Radios are lying! They are the voice of the government!"
As you can see, I'm not going to wear my tongs at a demonstration. And I've put on the same military trousers I had last time. We're at war.

Our very own Orange march.

Ok everyone, where is Waldo?

Jesus how big is this demonstration? See that white balloon in the background?

Here it is now, fascinating, isn't it?

Ahh, I can see a yellow balloon in the back.

I need to turn around from time to time, to stretch, or because other people have climbed around me to take pictures of their own and are now pushing me off. Bastards! Oh, my, there's that white balloon again.

Hey, that's the yellow balloon from the beginning of my diary!

Another rock band ...

The crowd is now made up mostly of students.

When I saw this handicapped guy walking by, I thought he was maybe faking it, as symbolism or something. But no, he was handicapped alright, and seeing him, and his sign (which said: "contrat poubelle éjectable" ie. "ejectable garbage contract"), while hearing the crowd saying "Ré-sis-tance" got my eyes a bit wet.

The sign here says: "Seperate the MEDEF and the State" (nb: MEDEF is the Union of men with top hats and long cigars, ie. the bosses)

Here comes the Lycée de Fermat, mentioned in the Grandes Ecoles thread as one of the most prestigious public High Schools in France.

Fermat are the guys with that yellow sign on the right.

Well, what can I say, more and more and more people have yet to pass me by.

Political parties now ... the Socialists ...

The Greens ...

And in the meantime you can see that Fermat is now far off ahead (see arrow)

Civil Engineers (with the blue hard hats), walking by with a brass band. From the other side of the street, damn that dark side of the street!

Ok at this point my battery charger ran out. Forgot to properly charge it (shame on me). Which is good in a sense, because it got me moving again (came down from my vantage point). But which is bad, because from that point onwards I could only take a picture once in a while (this is why the civil engineers & their brass band are now suddenly so far ahead), after turning the camera off for a few minutes at a time. And eventually it died off completely.

So I took my bike, and zoomed across town (leaving the demonstration behind me to catch up with the front). As I reached the Garonne river, I found the demonstration again. I noticed that the crowd had crossed the river to keep from clogging the town center (a rare event, last seen only during the anti-Le Pen demonstrations in 2002, or so I have been told by a friend). You may not see the crowd, but the three arrows I added indicate the bridge packed with people.

Then I looked the other way, and it's only then that I realized how huge this demonstration was. Here is a bridge on my left. Packed with people walking towards Place Esquirol.

Ok I'm moving towards the bridge on my left, and thought I might as well take advantage of the spot I'm at and take a picture of the place where the June 20th Toulouse meetup will take place. (on the grass below, a bit further to the left => slightly off camera)

Since the bridge crowd is getting into smaller roads, my bike slows me down. So I take a shortcut through some of Toulouse's narrow streets.

And meet up with the crowd again at Place Esquirol!!

I am near the front of the demonstration, as Pablo Seban is there, on his truck, as indicated by my red arrow.

After taking the customary one minute break for my battery charger to give me more juice before dying out, I think of taking a picture of some of Toulouse's beauty, since all you've seen are people, people, people (but beautiful people indeed).

And wham, my battery charger died off right after that picture.

Display:
The unions announced 2.7/3 million people in the streets of France today. The police says 1 million.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 01:55:36 PM EST

(click for bigger)

smaller numbers: according to the police
bigger numbers : according to unions

It's double the size of the previous one in any case.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oringinal link: http://abonnes.lemonde.fr/web/infog/0,47-0@2-3224,54-755523@51-725561,0.html (available only to subscribers)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:18:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The mood today was electric. Whenever I bumped into someone, we'd both smile, raise our hand simultaneously and say "no problem!". I saw several families together (parents with their teenage kids protesting). There was an incredible amount of screaming. The "Ré-sis-tance" slogan was really moving, especially since it was voiced more loudly by the young, and their voices are higher pitched, which makes the noise more noticeable. Am I making any sense here?

However a friend of mine who was just coming home told me that the Place du Capitole now packed with youths hanging out after the demonstration, is home to a certain amount of tension.

The cops could decide it's time to go to bed and charge and hit and kick.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:02:20 PM EST
Great reporting, Alex! Personal, passionate, efficient!

Since I know Toulouse well enough, I can see it was a really big demo. The TV is saying this evening that the whole day's demos and strikes were absolutely massive and went off very well -- a bit of aggro from the casseurs in Paris above all, but this time the police had orders to stop it.

The government is now up against the wall. The "let the movement rot" tactics have failed. What will Chirac decide to do, since I think the ball is really in his court now.

Ré-sis-tance! I like that. It's the right word and it contains its own narrative. Yes, we need to resist.

The irony is that, of course, it alludes to WWII, when de Gaulle led the Resistance. And the bunch of wankers that are in power now claim to be his followers. The last remaining hypocritical, useless remnants of Gaullisme. Allez, ouste!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:19:51 PM EST
Thanks afew, I only wish there was a way to transcribe what I felt at times. More than the last demonstration, this one really had a soul. Because the students were all here (they were not too present at the last one I went to as they had had a student-only demo of their own 2 days before).

Le Monde has an article which explains that today is possibly the largest demonstration ever in the history of France (sorry non-French readers but the article is in French):

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-734511,36-755530@51-725561,0.html

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:35:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your narration was just right. It reminded me of the big anti-war demonstrations in Washington D.C. The energy, large crowd, large variety of people and age groups.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:42:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote:
...it alludes to WWII, when de Gaulle led the Resistance.
---
It also alludes on youngsters movement against Milosevic...You remember fist? Watching these demonstrations gives me creeps. Even western world is rapidly becoming unhappy place.
But here in Australia workers rights has been taken practically in silence...a little winging from opposition Labor party and that's about it.

http://www9.sbs.com.au/theworldnews/transcript.php#

This is what workers had to say to Kim Beazley  , Labor party leader:

But some traditional Labor supporters are venting frustration at the labour movement, saying street marches are not enough - they want strikes.
MAN 1: Sing songs and eat half-cooked sausages instead of getting back down to the itty-gritty, picking up the telephone onto Howard and say, "Bring it in and the nation is out for 48 hours." That is what unionism is about. That is what Labor is about.
KIM BEAZLEY, LABOR LEADER: I like your spirit.
MAN 2: We're losing these votes because you guys are the best right-wing Labor government that I have seen in the last 10 years.
----
Does anything matters any more??? Anything? Governments are simply of the leash...around the world...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 05:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Watching these demonstrations gives me creeps. Even western world is rapidly becoming unhappy place.
I find them revitalizing, actually. It shows that we still have something to hope for.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 05:40:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be reading the camera's documentation, and at the next demonstration (if there is a next one, ahum) I'll take movies only instead. I can take short 10 megabyte movies, maybe up to 50 of them. It'll be fun as there are lots of things that simply can't be well described by a still picture.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:22:24 PM EST
things that simply can't be well described by a still picture.

I cannot agree - even though I worked as a BBC documentary cameraman in the Seveneties - a well framed (composed) still-photo in the hands of a good camerman (sorry) can tell you far more than a movie.

Both still and movie are edits of reality - they are framed to exclude most of the event they portray just as the Proscenium of theatre excludes all other views than the one between the wings.

But a movie requires temporal logic in a shot that restricts interpretations. A movie is more 'evidential' because it 'depicts what happened'. A still photogrpher has far more opportunity to introduce his/her own view into the edited reality. And the his/her view of course makes it feel more personal. In fact both are 'lies' to the extent that they exclude far more than they include - but semiotically the still picture has more resonance with most people.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ouch, don't tap on my head like that, ouch :)

Well one thing I really would have wanted people to know (if I had planned my camera usage better) is the sound that the Ré-sis-tance slogan made, and sound isn't conveyed by still pictures.

But I do agree that a good picture can be more powerful than a movie.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:01:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you had the still picture of the wonderful Delacroix student and showed it with the soundtrack of people shoutiing " Re-sis-tance" over and over, it would be a very powerful AV experience...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:05:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Le monde has a great picture from the Bordeaux demonstration. It shows this student who dressed up as a Marianne in a Delacroix painting!

(1st picture on the following link, at least at the time I'm typing this - requires Flash)

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/portfolio/0,12-0@2-734511,31-755304@51-725561,0.html

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:47:17 PM EST
Delacroix:

Student:

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:49:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a powerful message: "this government is debasing the republic".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:52:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of Migu leafing slowly thru a copy of Playboy muttering "Now that's a powerful message!"......"Now that's a powerful message!"......"Now that's a powerful message!"

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that's a funny one.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:03:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and better returned than a quick LOL

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that packs a punch.

I wish we'd stop being such sheep in the UK and get organised enough to do something similar here.

Oh - wait - we did. Sort of, anyway.

Interesting how with the UK, France and also the demo in LA, there have been so many huuuuge protests this week.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's keep the youth movilizations up for another 12 months and we can hope for a left-wing president.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:54:52 PM EST
Merci pour toutes ces belles photos! It's hard to believe Villepin isn't backing down a bit. From all reports the demonstrations are very large everywhere. Just a quick edit the ET Toulouse meet up is Saturday June 17th. Right here:

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:36:38 PM EST
Wonderful diary, Alex!  I got a bit teary myself.  Thanks so much for capturing it all.  Oh, and btw, nice shoes.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:05:32 PM EST
Thanks Izzy!

ps: these are my hiking shoes, which I bought when I used to go on regular hikes in the nearby Pyrénées moutains ("used to" because I'd go with this club, but I got lazy). They're not as cool as tongs, but they'll get anyone through World War III.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:23:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great Pics and Great Demo.

Makes me nostalgic for my student days.

Oh well.

BTW MicroTurbo is part of SAFRAN Group, makes small gas turbines.

Eats cheroots and leaves.

by NeutralObserver on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 05:53:17 PM EST
Really good one. Thanks.

humming: re-sis-tance, re-sis-tance, re-sis-tance

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 06:41:22 PM EST
Alex, you are a hero ! I cannot believe you went out there on your bike without shield and helmet !
Respect...
You are now our favourite for the best reporter de guerre prize !

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 08:27:45 AM EST
I would love to see this here in Italy. Let's see it at the voting booths.

Résistance. Yes, beloved France. But I think it would be good to remember the extraordinary courage and sacrifice of the members of the réseau Vidal, Charlotte Loupiac in particular in WWII. The Sud-Ouest did so much for France. That was la Résistance. Here are some of the members that did not survive the war:
Jean Aillet
Jean-Roger Barse
Henri Bermann
Guy Lacombe
Simone Plessis
Edouard Tarif
Fernand Planson
Jean Iché
et tant d'autres.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 03:04:53 PM EST
And the Sud-Ouest ranks were greatened by many Spanish and Italians (Republicans of the Spanish Civil War, anti-fachists from Italy).
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 03:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Carlo and Nello Rosselli, fought in Spain, murdered by the Cagoule as a favor for Ciano and BM in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne, 1937.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 04:37:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now let's be nice to those American tourists and show them a real good time (maybe ask one of them what they think of State...):

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This information is current as of today, Wed Mar 29 23:43:37 2006.

France and Monaco

March 27, 2006

This Public Announcement is issued to alert Americans to ongoing security concerns in France.  Demonstrations, sometimes involving violence, have occurred and continue to occur in Paris and other large cities in France in opposition to a new law concerning employment contracts for young workers.  This Public Announcement will expire on April 30, 2006.

Recent demonstrations have occurred at times in areas frequented by tourists.  Some of the demonstrations may be announced, while others may be spontaneous.  Police have responded by using tear gas.  U.S. Embassy personnel have been advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings.

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens traveling or residing in France to avoid areas where crowds are expected to gather, to exercise caution, particularly during evening and nighttime hours, and to closely follow media reports.

Travelers in France who need assistance can contact the U.S. Embassy at tel. 33-1-43-12-22-22 or (in France) 01-43-12-22-22; fax 33-1-42-61-61-40, or by email at: citizeninfo@state.gov.   The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paris is located at 2 Rue St. Florentin, 75001 Paris (Place de La Concorde, Metro Stop Concorde).  Further information can be obtained at the U.S. Embassy's web site at http://france.usembassy.gov/.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 04:47:02 PM EST
Remember when the US deported a Canadian citizen to Syria after 9/11 and Canada issued a travel advisory, and the US complained?

Did France issue travel advisories during the LA riots?

Back in November we had American friends over and they went to Paris for a couple of days. Being on ET provided me with the necessary talking points to reassure them that they's be all right.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 04:59:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's some reporter on CNN (Kyra Phillips) who said that when she saw the fighting, late in the evening, after yesterday's demonstration in Paris, it made her think of Tiananmen. She later "regretted her choice of words" when the French Ambassador complained.

(sorry for all the others, article below is in French)
http://permanent.nouvelobs.com/social/20060329.OBS2213.html

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 05:06:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ya, roll out the tanks, Kyra.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Mar 29th, 2006 at 06:37:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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