29 January 2009

La Manifestation Francaise- a protest or a parade?

I woke up on Thursday morning, the 29th of January, to megaphones and music as Lyonnais workers led the national protest down my street.

When I hear the word protest, as American I picture a potentially violent event involving the SWAT team. It is something I would not want to be involved with in the States. In France, though, I found it to be something completely different.

As I made my way down the street that morning, I found friendly protesters and families with their babies and children. These public sector workers represented many grievances from politics and education to public transportation. They were holding signs or balloons and singing, chanting, or at the most yelling. Venders were set up on the sidewalk serving sausages and baguettes. It had the energy and excitement of a Mizzou homecoming parade.

Thousands of people in Lyon refused to work on this national day of protest. The city and its people suffered, but the next day life continued whether their needs were met or not. I do not think the strike resolved any grievances but it is apparent that demonstrating gave them a sense of satisfaction and unification as French workers during the unfortunate economic condition of the world.

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