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Day 2 – From a Climate March to a Violent Farce

30 marraskuun, 2015

Our books had not arrived on Friday, so I had a free day on Sunday. It turned out to be one of the busiest and most exciting free Sundays I’ve had for years.

I decided to hook up with the people I knew here, meaning Eric, David and Derek. We went to see some of the climate marches that were supposed to happen, and to do some interviews with anti-nuclear people.

day2-dinosThe morning was quite uneventful. Someone handed me a A4 paper saying don’t fund fossil fuels with a cool dinosaur (the nerd in me wanted to point out that oil and other fossil fuels don’t have that much of actual dinosaur in them, but I guess a picture of algae and plankton would not be that interesting).

We ended up taking a subway to this bigger climate event, with the possibility to shoot some more documentary footage and maybe do some interviews. It all started pretty normal, with lots of people in relatively good spirits.






Another normal day in Paris as these guys from Belgium decided to start waiting for the sea-level to rise.


Some of the twenty thousand shoes left out as a symbolic gesture for those who were not able to march today.

After a while, things started to go south. The mood in the crowd started changing. Why would someone wear a mask into a peaceful climate march? Why were people shouting angry chants that had nothing to do with climate change? It turns out this really was no climate march after all – or at least not anymore. It was something that could perhaps be described as anti-capitalism, anti-establishment protest. And it was not going to be a non-violent one.


At this point, the march – although apparently banned – was still proceeding peacefully.

I don’t pretend to know who started doing what and provoking whom. After the terrible events just a few weeks back, any larger demonstrations were apparently banned from COP21. So the officials probably were not very happy about the march that took place. They certainly were not happy about it ending up being something totally different from a climate march.

The marchers proceeded by the plaza, singing and chanting. We took some pictures and shot some video. It seemed quite harmless, until after the marchers reached the other end of the road and were apparently stopped by the police. There was more chanting, and it started to sound a bit more aggressive.

Then I heard a few loud bangs, and a bit later some more, and I saw smoke spreading on the plaza. As I soon found out, the smoke was teargas, fired by the police to disperse the protesters who were apparently getting even more aggressive. And disperse they did, along with us “normal people”. In a couple of minutes, the gas had dispersed, and the protesters were at it again; throwing rocks and bottles and whatever they found towards the riot police. More bangs, more gas, more people running away, getting nowhere. More protesters throwing stuff at the police. More gas.


Then there was teargas.

No way out

After a while of documenting the events unfolding, we decided it was time we left.

As we were planning our getaway, we were lucky to bump into a woman, Nardine, who was a reporter from Australia. She was having difficulties (along with everyone else) getting out from the public square. The riot police were not letting anyone out – at least not without some credentials proving that they were not part of the violent protesters. We had none.

But Nardine had credentials for the blue zone, given she was a real, accredited journalist and not just a bunch of independent people doing their thing like us. Being apparently intimidated and confused, she asked for our help. It remains a mystery why she came to us. Maybe we seemed like we knew what we were doing (not the greatest judgement from her there I would dare to say…).

So off we went to the riot police, asking to be let out. No luck. We moved to another street and another line of police, explaining we needed to get out. They were sceptic, but somehow we managed to make it seem like all five of us should go with Nardine, even though we did not have any such credentials. After some explaining and not-so-friendly finger-pointing, we got through.

Meanwhile in the plaza, things were heating up even more. But we were out, and thankful for it.

One Comment
  1. Syltty permalink

    Jep, tuolla tavallahan sitä ilmastonmuutosta vastustetaankin. Aivan varmasti suurin osa tavallisista ihmisistä ajattelee, että jotkut karvapäät siellä taas heiluu, eikä niillä oikeastaan ole mitään järjellistä sanottavaa. Ilmastonmuutosasiat hukkuvat uutisissa lentävien kivien ja kyynelkaasun alle.

    Ei ehkä ollut kovin fiksua lähteä marssille, jos ne kerran olivat kiellettyjä.


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