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Shaffer: View from streets of Paris reminder of journalism’s value

PARIS - Wednesday morning started as most of my Paris vacation days do - a croissant, coffee and a loose plan for the day. Since it was the first day of "soldes" (think Black Friday sales at every store, and throw in a few thousand tourists), my ...

Parisians rally after deadly attack
Parisians gathered in the Place de Republique to show solidarity against terrorism and support for freedom of expression after the attack Wednesday on French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. Heidi Shaffer/The Forum

PARIS – Wednesday morning started as most of my Paris vacation days do – a croissant, coffee and a loose plan for the day.

Since it was the first day of “soldes” (think Black Friday sales at every store, and throw in a few thousand tourists), my husband and I decided to browse the giant department stores for a few hours and then get off our feet in a nearby cafe.

What we didn’t realize was that just blocks away, 12 people – including police officers, journalists and others – were being murdered in an apparent terrorist attack.

When we returned to our hotel, horrific videos and news of the attack filled the TV, and messages from home flooded our phones to make sure we were OK.

The initial fear we felt quickly was swept away with the spirit of the Parisians around us as they packed the nearby Place de Republique to show solidarity against terrorism and support for freedom of expression.

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Demonstrators carried signs that read, “Je suis Charlie.” Others lit candles, laid flowers on the statue at the center of the square or quietly cried. One young Parisian tied a black armband around the statue’s arm.

But the moment the demonstrators started chanting “liberte d’expression” reminded me why I went into journalism. We all want to be heard, and we deserve to express the world around us.

We are all Charlie.

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