“La Marseillaise” rang out in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood Saturday as the local French community gathered to show support for their homeland after Friday’s attacks. Later, the French flag was raised atop the Space Needle.
With cheers of “Vive la France” and singing the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” Seattle’s local French community gathered at a Belltown bakery Saturday afternoon to support one another and Paris after Friday’s attacks, the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.
“Paris is touching a nerve for a lot of people outside of Paris as well,” said Mathias Dangla, who grew up on the west coast of France but has lived in Seattle since 1992. “A lot of people have gone to Paris, it has symbols of being a romantic city, a city that stands for freedom, liberty, culture … It is great to see the support outside of France.”
Seattle shows solidarity
Dangla’s father lives in Paris, but Dangla was unsure when he was due back after a vacation in Morocco. Relieved to reach his father Saturday morning, Dangla said his dad would likely be back in Paris later in the day.
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Saturday’s gathering, which packed La Parisienne bakery and flooded the sidewalk, was organized by the Seattle chapter of the Union of French Expatriates, which President Olivier Fontana started five years ago.
Fontana said the French community gets together for the good and for the bad, and people needed to be together Saturday.
“You don’t want to be alone and at home watching the news,” he said. “You want to get out of there and be with people.”
Later Saturday, in the rain and bracing winds, Seattle’s Space Needle stood in support of Paris, as a giant French flag was raised to half-staff atop it.
The 25- by 35-foot flag was special-made Saturday, picked up from Rainier Industries in Tukwila and rushed to the Space Needle to be raised about 4 p.m.
“This is not about us,” said Space Needle spokesman Dave Mandapat. “This is what little we can do to show our support, concern and compassion.”
Mayor Ed Murray said the Seahawks also plan to raise a French flag before the game at CenturyLink on Sunday.
Before gathering at the bakery with his countrymen, Xavier Jeannerod spent much of Friday trying to reach his parents, four siblings and other friends and family who all live in Paris. He learned of the attacks, which left more than 120 people dead, at work Friday afternoon and quickly began texting and emailing his family.
Jeannerod, who has lived in Bellevue with his wife and four kids for the last five years, did not have all the details about his family until he finally got his brother on Skype Saturday morning. He now knows everyone is all right — nobody was in the areas that were targeted, he said.
“It is natural for us to come to show that even if we are far away from France, we are still very much with them at this difficult time,” Jeannerod said Saturday about going with two of his sons and friends to the bakery.
Murray spoke at the event and said Seattle stands with Paris, just as France stood with the U.S. after Sept. 11, 2001: “Today we are all Parisians,” he said.
“The freedom that France represents and the artistic freedom that Paris represents in particular is something that Seattle identifies with,” and something that will not be snuffed out in Paris or in Seattle, he told the crowd before a moment of silence.