Paris officials have begun clearing away the flowers and candles left at the iconic statue at Place de la République, which became the focal point of impromptu public commemorations following a spate of terrorist attacks on French soil.
Ever since the January 2015 attacks on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, mourners have gathered around the statue of Marianne, the French national symbol, lighting candles and laying flowers in memory of the victims of jihadist terrorism.
To many in France, the statue, adorned with the Republic’s motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, became a rallying point, and a beacon of unity and defiance in troubled times.
Earlier this year, the square played host to the nocturnal gatherings of the “Nuit Debout” (Up All Night) movement, a citizen-led protest movement that has been likened to Spain’s Anti-austerity “Indignados”.
On Tuesday, bystanders expressed mixed feelings as workers began collecting objects strewn around the monument and scrubbing the many graffiti painted on the statue.
Christine, a visitor from Toulouse, said she felt “a twinge of sorrow because all the anger and sadness of the people was inscribed here”.
But her friend Marielle believed the clean-up marked a necessary shift in remembrance: “The pain has been expressed, but it’s now inside us. The cleaning doesn’t mean it has gone away. It’s in our memories.”
Paris officials have said memorial objects gathered during the clean-up will be preserved in the city archives or exhibited at the Carnavalet Museum, which is dedicated to the city’s history.
Date created : 2016-08-02