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.