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Attack on Crowded French Promenade Not Deterring Gatherings

July 18, 2016

by The Associated Press, July 18, 2016

The deliberate targeting of pedestrians along a promenade in France last week by a French-Tunisian national, which killed 84 people and wounded dozens, has drawn renewed attention to the dangers of gathering in crowds in an age of terrorism and mass shootings. People at events around the world, from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to an agricultural fair in Buenos Aires, said they're increasingly aware of their surroundings but not ready to shun events that attract big crowds.


People in town for protests focused on the Republican National Convention say the truck attack in France and the fatal shooting of five Dallas police officers during a July 7 rally are on their minds but not deterrents.

"I think it has to be a concern after Nice and Dallas. At the same time, if we don't turn out for the things we believe in, they win," Naomi Zikmund-Fisher, who came to Cleveland with her 18-year-old daughter, Eve, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, said Sunday.

Kim Redigan, of Lansing, Michigan, said there's "an existential reality that life is unsafe."

"Fear seems to be winning the day, but it won't prevail," said Redigan, a peacekeeper trained to help out and de-escalate situations at protests such as Sunday's "Shut Down Trump and the RNC."

Bryan Cox, of Cleveland, attended a pro-Trump rally on Monday. He acknowledged the thought in the back of his mind that there are dangerous people in the world who want to do harm, but he added: "You can't live in fear all the time."



Argentines attending an agricultural fair on Sunday said say they see the attacks in France as distant from the many other hurdles they face daily.

Ambrosio Anardi, a Buenos Aires resident, said people in Latin America and Argentina "live with other problems and concerns, but not those."

Fernanda Litera, also of Buenos Aires, said she understands an attack could happen there but she feels safe.

The "Rural Exhibition," a 15-day event where thousands of people gather to display and buy animals and produce, is the largest of its kind in Argentina.



Attending the NAACP national convention in downtown Cincinnati, Gerald D. Phillips, 63, of Chicago, was philosophical on the possibility of problems.

"If something's going to happen, it's going to happen anyway," he said Sunday. "I don't have any control about how people think. I'm not afraid to be in crowds. I'm not going to be intimidated by anybody."

Some 5,000 were expected to take part in the convention, with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaking Monday.

City Manager Harry Black said Cincinnati remains on a higher state of alert during the NAACP convention, and that there are plans ready for threats to public safety.



New York's Times Square was wall-to-wall people Saturday night, two days after the attack in France.

Lew Girmschield, 48, an elementary school principal from Chicago visiting with his wife and four teenage children, said he's become more vigilant in crowded spaces in light of terror attacks.

"I'm checking where my kids are a little more frequently and we planned what we would do if something happened," he said. "We all know where we're staying and we would meet there. We discussed that today."

But he says that doesn't mean he is going to stop living life.

"This is a family vacation," he said. "We're still going to go. We're still going to do it, but we just have to be a little more prepared.



In Venezuela's capital, residents on Sunday said that despite not having attacks like the one in Nice, a general haze of violence across the country has many concerned about their well-being.

Doralba Blanco, a local resident, said criminals don't care whether children or families are harmed. Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and it's hard to find a person who hasn't been mugged.

Blanco was at a park where parents and their children gathered to celebrate Children's Day Sunday.



Mike Segesky, attending a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians on Sunday, said he and his family are becoming more cautious because of events like the France attack. Yet he doesn't think it will affect his day-to-day life, including coming to crowded baseball games.

"These are our freedoms," said Segesky, 58, from Minnetonka, Minnesota. "This is our country, and this is what we do. You can't have it ruin and run your life."



On many Saturdays, Detroit's Eastern Market draws about 45,000 people to shop for fruit, vegetables and flowers beneath covered sheds.

As Dedra Johnson arrived Saturday, the France truck attack crossed her mind.

"I was thinking, if I was in a crowd with my child what would I do?" said Johnson, a 39-year-old social worker, while enjoying pastries. "I don't put anything past anybody."

Terrorist attacks have caused Johnson to consider safety now more than ever.

At movie theaters "we have to sit at the top where there is an exit," she said. "It's sad, but I always think about it. If something was to happen, I would grab my daughter and pull her to the floor. There is more fear now for my daughter than for myself. Even in the malls she can no longer drift away."



Jerry White, 47, of Jacksonville, Alabama, attended the Deontay Wilder-Chris Arreola WBC heavyweight title fight Saturday night at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. He said he felt safe inside the facility but might feel differently outside.

He's also a season ticket holder at Alabama football games, and takes his son and daughter to games. He often thinks of his vulnerability there.

"Dude, every time they have flyovers with banners, that's exactly what I think: How easy would that be?" he said.



The attacks did not deter fans from showing up in numbers along the roads of the Tour de France.

Thousands lined the 37.5-kilometer time trial route to La Caverne du Pont-D'Arc on Friday and a huge crowd of people again cheered the riders on Saturday as the peloton moved up the Rhone Valley during Stage 14.

"I asked myself if the decision to keep racing was the good one," said Bruno Pruvost, a 56-year-old independent consultant, watching in the small town of Bourg Saint-Andeol. "We can't let our guard down, but it was important that they continued the race, otherwise it would be too easy for them (the terrorists). I feel safe here."


This article was written by The Associated Press from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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