When I woke up on Thursday morning, March 23rd, I debated whether to check out the manif’ that day. Given the violence that you see on the news, I was considering avoiding the scene. However, the photographic opportunity is something I couldn’t resist so I walked to the Bastille to see the gathering crowds. Though the messages were certainly aggressive, the whole scene was fairly calm with people dancing, playing music and painting signs. I saw a lot of photographers (both professional and amateur) along with TV stations and a large number of police at the front of the pack. I found a bench between the Bastille and Place de la République and joined a few people standing on it, figuring it would relatively safe, then waited for the “festivities” to begin.
What I discovered was a march filled with students (and young people just out of school) expressing their frustration in a noisy yet relatively peaceful manner. I even shifted to a divider in the middle of the street with my DSLR camera in hand without an incident. Unfortunately, what I read later is that the casseurs (i.e. people who break windows, cars, set fires, etc.) came out near Opéra and did what they always do. Clearly these anarchists aren’t “for” or “against” anything; they just want to destroy stuff and in the process, they taint people’s desire to act on their democratic rights and employ the freedom of expression.
In this series of photos, I tried to capture the intense emotional expression through signs, clothing, dance and song.
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