Following Friday’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, Bay Area residents joined together on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Sunday to honor the victims.
At 3 p.m., people began gathering, donning French flags, signs and heavy hearts. Quiet chatter, in both French and English, could be heard. One man, wearing a French colored scarf, shouted out to the crowd: “Si on chantait La Marseillaise?” (“How about we sing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem?”)
The crowd sang earnestly, honoring the victims and waving French flags in the wind. At the end of the song, it was quiet, as if the crowd was waiting for something. But there were no organized speakers.
The chatter started up again, until the French Consulate General Pauline Carmona came through to the middle of the gathering and the crowd applauded. She said a few words, switching between French and English, thanking all of those present. “Il faut se rappeler nos valeurs,” she said. (“We must remember our values.”)
A minute of silence was observed in memory of the 129 victims. Carmona asked to sing “La Marseillaise” again. And the crowd sang again, louder this time.
While hundreds gathered at San Francisco City Hall, the crowd was smaller than the Charlie Hebdo gathering on Jan. 7 at the French Consulate in San Francisco. But this crowd was no less mournful. Those who felt compelled to speak, raised their voice from their pocket of the gathering. One woman said: “Paris and San Francisco are sister cities. San Francisco has been called the Paris of the West.” She asked for San Francisco not only to grieve, but to show its solidarity.
From another corner of the crowd, a young man shouted: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”