Paris terrorist attacks felt in Mason

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Photo contributed by Dana Miller

Despite being 4,110 miles away, the Mason community continues to mourn the victims of the Paris attacks.

On November 13, simultaneous attacks were launched against the citizens of Paris, resulting in the death of at least 129 people. Three teams comprised of a total of eight terrorists, coordinated and executed shootings and bombings on six locations including a concert hall, the Stade de France, and at least two restaurants.

Lindsey McDowell, sister-in-law of Mason alumni Delaney McDowell, traveled to Paris from Riga, Latvia, to visit a friend on a business trip. McDowell arrived in Paris one week before the attacks, and said prior to the shootings, there were no suspicions that an attack was coming.

“Everything seemed normal the day of the attacks,” McDowell said. “I rode the train into the city center from the airport and didn’t feel unsafe or notice any suspicious activity. The streets were buzzing with tons of people out and about.”

Angela Randolph, friend of French National Honor Society advisor Abby Gist, has lived in Paris for four years, and hours before the attack she visited the café that would later be terrorized as part of one of the four locations that underwent attacks. Randolph said the attacks left a vivid impression on her mind.

“I remember everything vividly: the attacks, taking of hostages, and Kamikazes at the Stade de France,” Randolph said. “I knew it was a serious attack right away because I followed it on Twitter.”

The attacks immediately left 352 people wounded, 99 of them seriously. McDowell said the French government insisted pedestrians stay off the streets, and police officers directed people away from the shooting locations.

“I walked back to my flat at 1 a.m. because the restaurant I was at closed,” McDowell said. “They were not supposed to do this, and actually should have locked us in the restaurant since the French government had requested no one to be on the streets. When I walked back to the flat, there were streets barricaded and police with rifles instructing us not to go certain ways.”

World leaders grieved for Parisians, and on November 16, the Eiffel Tower lit up with the colors of the French flag, honoring victims. Shortly after, the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island followed suit.

Mason High School showed its support with a ribbon sale. Senior French Honor Society and French Club Member Kedi Hu promoted  “Peace for Paris” with the sale of black solidarity ribbons. While the ribbons are technically free, Hu said there is a recommended donation of 25 cents with each ribbon. Hu said the purpose of the campaign is to support the victims’ families. After watching news stories in class, Hu said the two clubs got involved, joining many other nations who have extended a helping hand to Paris.

“They covered quite extensively the things going on in France and not only France’s side of the issue but also how the world is coming together in order to support France,” Hu said. “They have filters of the French flag to show solidarity, like a community that is helping out another community in need.”

Yazmine Merkiled, who nannied for Gist’s children, now lives in Cincinnati but originally moved to Paris from her hometown Martinique. In the wake of the events, Merkiled said she would like to move back to Martinique instead of Paris because she is afraid. Like Merkiled, Randolph said she remains on edge after the attacks.

“I don’t take the metro or any other public transportation; there is so much craziness,” Randolph said. “I went to a mall the other day and three-fourths of the stores were closed, and that really didn’t reassure me. There are a lot of bag searches and searches done on people in public spaces.”

On November 13, attackers terrorized Paris, taking little consideration into the lives they were affecting. Their actions left many dead or unidentified, and in the aftermath of the attacks, MHS students rallied together to help a community in need. As for the City of Lights, McDowell said Paris is trying to regain its normal routine in this time of darkness.

“My friend had gone out earlier in the day and said cafés and shops were opening,” McDowell said. “Parisians were trying to resume their normal life and not allow the terrorism to deter them from living their lives.”