Silence befell the Atlanta City Council chambers as Denis Barbet, the French consul general in Atlanta, took the podium Monday.
Fighting back his emotion, Barbet thanked the city, state and country for its support following Friday’s attacks in Paris.
“We are very touched by the support we received from all our friends …” Barbet told the audience, which included scores of police officers, who each stood for his remarks. “We won’t give up; we will keep fighting terrorism wherever it happens. We are all united to fight terrorism. Barbarism will not prevail and we have no fear of them.”
Mayor Kasim Reed, who joined the council for Barbet’s appearance, noted France is the “longest-standing friend and ally” of the United States. Reed is traveling to Paris at the end of the month for the U.N. conference on climate change.
“I think it’s appropriate, as has been so often well-said throughout this horrific event, that we really are all Parisians. We really all are French,” he said.
Council President Ceasar Mitchell said he invited Barbet in order to honor the victims with a moment of silence and to condemn violence in Paris, Beirut, Kenya and other places recently affected by acts of terror.
“What has happened in our society and in our world is that people have become desensitized to violence,” he said. “There’s always got to be a statement to push back and say violence is not appropriate and non-violence is the way of life that we should be pursuing.”
Atlanta City Hall has been lit with France’s national colors, one of many symbols of support seen across the area. In recent days, Atlantans have also held candlelight vigils, including one planned for Monday night on Emory University’s Atlanta campus.
The vigil, co-sponsored by the Muslim Student Association and French Club, precedes a similar service scheduled for Tuesday on Emory’s Oxford campus.
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Staff writer Janel Davis contributed to this report.