For the last three weeks, there has been a group of good looking young fellas--policemen-- on rue des Ecoles, just standing around at the barricade near cinéma Le Champo looking like bored extras on a movie set. Last night as I walked by, they were butting each other with their shields. If this were a romantic comedy, I would have tripped over a fallen helmet and wound up with a phone number (if it were a really modern romantic comedy, I suppose the men wouldn't have needed me in the picture at all). As it was, I passed on by in my ipod bubble. Ah well.
I'm all for the policemen and their relaxed buffoonery if it means my neighbors cars aren’t being burned. Although some of us are getting a bit weary of their presence. Last night I asked Jeanne what she thought of the CPE (pronounced “say pay yuh”) manifestations and she shrugged her shoulders like a yiddish grandmother and said, “What’s there to tell?” As if on cue another siren wailed down the rue Saint Jacques and she said, “You can tell your blog we’re living in an occupied state!” Jeanne's bed is just by the noisy window.
About ten days ago, the same night Arté showed Irma la Douce, which, incidentally, have you seen it? It is a lovely little Billy Wilder film set in Paris. Full of stereotypes, but so good! Jack Lemmon plays a French cop! So on whatever night that was, I ran out to the grocery store because I remembered I was out of milk. I would have to hustle to get to Monop' before they closed their doors at 9:50 pm. There were cops and barricades blocking several portions of my route, and by the time I broke through to clear sidewalk, I was literally jogging out of relief.
That’s when I passed a nicely dressed man who clucked his tongue and said to his companion, “Il y a une qui va courir maintenant.” He thought I was a protester, which made me feel simultaneously important, but then also like I’d been unfairly profiled (It’s my Chuck Taylors, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?) As I approached Mabillon (I had prudently stopped jogging at this point), there was a shift in the atmosphere and, all of the sudden, there were all these cops coming towards me on the sidewalk. Big plastic shields in front of them, sirens from their nearby bus blaring, the whole bit. I got so scared I sort of half put my arms up, I know that sounds ridiculous and it felt ridiculous even at the moment, but I didn’t want to be teargassed. Turns out, SURPRISE!, they were after another individual.
So that is more or less the extent of my experience with the protests. Illuminating! I know.
That’s where you all come in. I’d love to know your thoughts. Anyone out there who can make me sympathize with the anti-CPE? Because from where I’m sitting, it sounds like they’re protesting a fraternity for running out of free beer. What to make of people who would create a banner, like students at a school in Avignon, reading, "Don't send us police. Nurture us instead."
I don’t think that the government should be expected to do that.
But then again, you can't just tell a person what to believe. Even if this is the better solution for the country as a whole, I guess getting public opinion to shift is only going to happen if de Villepin and other leaders can spin this to show what’s in it for the individual.
How I wish people would respond to this message.