Paris: D12 Protests
Well guys, I'm going to admit it now: I suck at this writing thing. Haha. I constantly have all these ideas and posts I want to share. And then it all just builds up and there's chaos in my head and it literally becomes like that feeling "when you have so much work to do so you end up doing nothing instead". It's like that.
But I think I've finally figured out how I want to structure everything in the way that helps you best understand it. So I hope you bear with me as I keep trying to figure out this whole writing thing haha.
So on Saturday December 12th was the D12 protests. I want to give you my account of it. Because if you see it in the news, I think you're just going to the get the highlight reels of people cheering and chanting and the front-line people. What I want to show you is what it actually was like for me.
So throughout the week in Paris, all the preparations, all the workshops, all the banners we've seen have all lead to this event. All the people coming to Paris are coming here for this event of civil protest and disobedience.
We had the final briefing for it on Friday, the day before.
To give you an overview, the basic gist of it is that at 11:45am on December 12th, everyone would come together to occupy a big street that ran between the Arc de Triomphe and the Arc de la Defense. This is a HUGE street and they would block the entire area off so no cars could enter.
Then, at exactly 12pm, thirty foghorns would go off to signal to everyone to showcase their red, to create a red line with our bodies that would send a message to the political leaders that we would not let them cross us.
Then, we would also hold up red flowers which they gave to us and have 2 minutes of silence to give respects to all those that have died to the climate devastations.
Then, after that, a brass and samba band which would play so that everyone could show their protests.
But here I'm going to be frank. I don't really think this was my thing. Like I admit I had a LOT of doubts about all this. Like how much effect it would really have. Like whether the idea and co-ordination was really done all that well.
Because the thing is that so, so many people came from so many different places to be in Paris. When we were having Q&A during the briefing, so many people got up with questions like "I'm a musician from XXX, is there any way I can help more" or "A group of friends and I have come here, is there any activity or group that we can join in with to do MORE than just this?"
So to me it just seemed like this wasn't enough. It just seemed to me that a huge array of people had all come to Paris for this and all they would be able to contribute was to get there on the day and wear some red and do a little walking and chanting. I just felt like if you have SO many passionate people, surely there is something more you can co-ordinate for them to do that is more impactful.
But perhaps I'm being a little harsh because the organisers (350.org) had already done a huge job gathering this many people together with a lot of background preparation. But one idea I had was that if I were to organise an action, I would love to co-ordinate a really really good song to be composed and to teach to everyone. Like the one from Les Mis haha.
Oofh I just rewatched that now and got shivers.
But despite my doubts, I still wanted to go and be a part of it. Why? Because I think it's important to show the numbers of people that are passionate about this cause. And also because I was just curious what it would be like.
So how did the actual day go down?
Well, for starters, I admit that Mr. Human and I were a little late in arrival. But to be honest, we didn't mind as it didn't seem we missed too much.
When we got there, there were a lot of people milling around, everyone with their banners. There were two 160m banners made for the event with people holding on. Sporadically they would wave it around and chant a little.
Here we are giving the banner-waving and occasional chant a go haha.
I'm not going to lie to you here and say that everyone was chanting and yelling and jumping up and down non-stop. I think today made me realise that during these sort of protests there is actually a lot of just standing around.
Understandably it's really hard to keep chanting for like an hour straight haha. And it's also really hard to co-ordinate 15,000 people.
But it was just interesting to see because in news clips and stuff, you only ever see the videos when the crowd is cheering and chanting, never clips of when they're just quiet and walking around haha. Some people were even sitting down.
Something I did find cool though was just seeing the different groups who'd come. My favourite was Grandparents Against Global Warming haha.
And there was also this other group that, even though they were barely audible amongst all the commotion, just kept singing songs.
There was this one person who would stand on top of the traffic lights, and here they attached a red banner to one of the lines.
And of course there was SOUP!!! Provided by the Action Kitchens. This is Timon. I cooked with him on one of the days, and he is just an all-round top notch guy, I liked him a lot.
After this part, the plan was that everyone would make their way to the Eiffel Tower. This was actually really really nice and a lot better than the first part. 15,000 walking through these little Parisian streets together, chants echoing down the line.
People would stand across intersections and block cars, and it was just odd to see how only a few people could just stop all these cars.
So one learning is that if you're going to organise a protest, make it a march. There is only so much people can do and chant if it's confined to one location. When people are marching, it feels like there is much more momentum and excitement.
When we got to the scene of the Eiffel Tower, Mr. Human and me climbed onto one of the ledges and just sat and watched the march unfolding. This was my favourite part of the whole thing. Like I said, we weren't really big on the waving banners around and yelling thing. So this was just nice to see and realise just how many people had come.
My other favourite part was when people decorated the statues. I thought it was genius haha.
I think this would've been another cool idea, like a co-ordinated decoration of the statues in Paris. Like not in a vandalism kind of way, but just in a nice, goofy kind of way. Putting signs into their hands, draping them with red. :)
Overall, I don't feel like I contributed that much haha. But I guess I'd rather chose to be there and show my support than not. And, at the end of the day, I realise that what you get from the protest, is what you give in. So yeah, if I'd been one of the people who'd made a huge banner and come with a big group who were all chanting together, then I think I would've felt like I'd given a lot and made a big impact.
But I was there with Mr. Human and I guess we had our own quiet way of taking it in. And I am glad I went, I learnt a lot from it and had some cool ideas. At the end of the day, I think we realise that if we really want to help the world, the way us two are going to do it is not by participating in a protest. Maybe that's one small way but I think what we learnt is that, for us, we have something else in store. :)