I’ve tried to write something each day since the horrendous truck attack in Nice, but my words seemed so inadequate I couldn’t bring myself to post them.
Today marks a week since a deranged psychopath purposely drove a truck into the Bastille Day crowds, intentionally killing as many innocent people as possible.
In the space of a week, the Promenade des Anglais has gone from one of the most beautiful spots in the world, to a horrific body-strewn massacre, to a sequestered crime scene, to a spontaneous memorial with shocked and silent mourners covering each and every blood stain with flowers, candles, notes, photos, and stuffed animals. Half the Prom remained closed most of the week as these early piles of flowers grew into mountains…
Every day I walked the trace of the carnage, passing so, so many piles of flowers… and every day, the final stack sent cold shivers: a circle of people silently staring at a pile of dirt and rocks in the middle of the road, the spot where the killer was finally shot dead. People spit on it as they passed, or violently flung another handful of dirt. Many of the stones contained anguished messages like “Assassin!” “Burn in Hell!” and “Why, why, why??”
A ceremony was held on the Prom which attracted 40,000 mourners, all still in shock but with some lashing out, searching for someone, anyone, to blame for this unimaginably senseless act.
That night, knowing that the Prom had to eventually reopen, hundreds of people gathered in the moonlight to create a mile-long human chain, passing all the flowers, notes and toys, one-by-one, from the spot where each victim was felled, to a memorial at the gazebo, and when that was full, they lined the seaside.
One week later, the Promenade des Anglais is open, and if you lived in a cave and had no knowledge of what transpired, you would not know that anything was out of whack until passing the stretch that is lined with flowers. The Old Town is less crowed than a normal high-season, but in a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, plus an unwillingness to be cowed by fear, it is absolutely full of life. The beaches are full of sunbathers, the beach volleyball court is active day and night, the street musicians are out in force, the restaurants and full, and there was even an open air salsa dance in the Place Palais de Justice last night.
The funerals are just starting and the full list of victims has only just now been released. A third of the victims were Muslim, including the first woman that the killer veered onto the sidewalk to hit, a mother of 7 who was wearing a traditional headscarf. This is not about religion, or politics, just immense sadness.
Photos by Best of Nice