Atlanta‘s Francophile community joined a rally at noon Sunday to show solidarity in the wake of the indiscriminate assassinations that occurred on Friday night convulsing Paris over the weekend and raising questions about how the city should protect its residents in the future.
The rally occurred on the ground floor of the Buckhead Towers at Lenox Square where the Maison de France is located, which holds the offices of the Consulate General of France, Business France, the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Accueil, Ecole de Samedi and affiliated organizations.
France’s consul general, Denis Barbet, called for a minute of silence. He then led the rally, which filled the space and spilled into an outside corridor, in the Marseillaise, France’s national anthem.
Mr. Barbet also spoke on behalf of the universal values of openness, freedom of expression, thought and religion under the rule of law. He also referred to French
prime minister Manuel Vals‘ assertion that France is now formally at war against terrorists and lamented that the city had suffered once again at the hands of terrorists as it had in January.
France’s consular advisers Dominque Lemoine and Michele Oliviers-Alain also spoke with Mr. Lemoine mentioning the many rallies of support and mourning across the United States while Ms. Oliviers-Alain cited similar events around the world.
Kwanza Hall, city councilman of Atlanta‘s District 2, and State Rep. Scott Holcomb of Georgia‘s District 81, represented the city and state, respectively.
Standing across from Mr. Barbet during the rally were members of Atlanta’s Consular Corps including
Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford, the United Kingdom‘s consul general; Ambassador Hermano Telles Ribeiro, Brazil‘s consul general; Andreas Maager, consul general of Switzerland, and Shane Stephens, the consul general of Ireland.
Also present were David Aferiat, president of the French-American Chamber of Commerce; Daniel Wolff, president of the Alliance Francaise; Betty Davis, president of the Toulouse Sister City Committee; and Monique Seefried,
wife of Ferdinand Seefried, the honorary consul of Austria.
Kevin Glass, headmaster of the Atlanta International School, was among the families and supporters of France attending the rally, many accompanied by their children.
Georges Alameddine, a Frenchman who has lived in Atlanta for 15 years, came with a sign bearing “Pas Peur,” or in English “No Fear” in keeping with the phrases France’s politicians have repeated throughout the weekend.
Soon after the official comments, the crowd composed of more than 350,
possibly more, dispersed with a group of children laying flowers outside at the base of poles bearing the flags of France, the United States and Georgia, all flying at half-staff.