Holding “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) placards beneath their umbrellas, more than 150 Las Vegans gathered in front of Paris Las Vegas Sunday around 10:30 a.m. and made their way South down the Strip to New York-New York. There, in the cold drizzle, they sang the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise," to demonstrate their solidarity with the millions of people marching for unity at the same time in Paris.
“It was very moving,” said Christelle Chamblas, of the Francophone Academy of Las Vegas, which organized the local event. “We were proud to be French and touched by the number of Americans who turned out to show their support of our common values of freedom of expression and freedom of religion.”
The marches, which attracted more than 4 million participants worldwide, according to French newspaper Le Monde, were inspired by last week’s ideologically motivated killing spree that left 17 people dead in Paris and its surrounding suburbs. The terror began Wednesday, when Islamic extremists stormed the editorial headquarters of satirical weekly newsmagazine Charlie Hebdo and shot dead 12 people, including cartoonists, editors, police and security staff. Another policewoman and four civilians in a Kosher supermarket also lost their lives before the three suspected perpetrators were killed by French law enforcement on Friday.
“People of many different nationalities, races and religions marched with us,” Chamblas said, reflecting the composition of demonstrations in Paris and elsewhere. “This event has touched everyone who cares about protecting the values of democracy.”