les grèves (the strikes)

and now for the next chapter in my time here. you've probably heard of the french loving to strike lots. maybe you've even heard of them rioting (i know i did when i was in highschool). but this is what was happening not a mile from my home. the french are rioting. and i'm staying indoors with a cold.

and a video taken by a girl in our program, Elisa Penner. props to her for having the gall to actually be in the middle of it.

i would like to make the same distinction that french are making; there are "manifestants et casseurs", i.e. protesters and 'breakers'. basically this means that there are groups of people who come to the peaceful protest and make it violent. the interesting thing is that most of the "casseurs" happen to be teenagers (not angry twenty-something men). so much angst! and then the nice once-peaceful crowd gets tear-gassed because of the select few individuals that just wanted to break stuff.

because of all this, the university is closed. this was posted on the university website:
essentially it says "the administration has decided to keep the university closed and classes stopped until further notice. you will be told when classes start back up and the campuses reopen." i don't really like the idea of this! we just got started, i'm trying to make friends, and i only have a few lectures per week that i have to attend as it is! if i miss one, that's 2 weeks between classes. plus, we have vacation next week, so why take any off now?? *sigh* oh well...

UPDATE (22/10): it appears that the riots have settled down (just in time for everyone to leave on their fall break). the public transit system is working normally again, as far as i know. there a couple more days scheduled for protests and strikes, but considering i don't think they'll draw quite as many people, there will probably be way less violence if any. if nothing else, that means a week of normalcy!

here is what my travel alert says: "Unions will hold nationwide demonstrations in France Oct. 28 and Nov. 6 to protest government plans to reform pensions. Details and the impact of these events are still unclear, but previous actions have caused transportation and commercial disruptions. Some of the protests have become violent, especially as students have joined the protests. These incidents have been isolated and immediately mitigated by riot police."

my favorite part is the end... because what does "immediately" really mean in this case?? within 5 days? and "isolated"... meaning they closed off the Presqu'île and people living there were isolated to their homes till later in the evening. it's very interesting the way the police handle the situation, but at the same time, they only have so many options and this one seemed to be the least harmful/the best.

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