As all of France reels from the Paris terror attack that left 12 dead Wednesday, dozens of San Diegans gathered in Balboa Park to prove the pen is mightier than the sword — or the keyboard is mightier than the Kalashnikov, as one woman put it.
Candles lit the faces of grieving guests in front of the park’s House of France Thursday. Speakers condemned the three-gunman massacre at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine known for its mockery of political and religious leaders, including the Prophet Muhammad.
"I think it is important to show that I'm really sad and I think everybody here has a sad heart for what happened,” Sandrine Gerzevitz told NBC 7.
Some mourners were French; others just loved the country. All wanted to show solidarity with the positive movement that has grown from the streets of Paris, set fire to social media and caught hold in the U.S. They began holding up what the terrorists wanted to silence.
"The pen is mightier than the sword. Every time. We can never forget that or be afraid to use the pen,” said attendee James Bowser.
With signs reading “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), the demonstrators joined in a moment of silence to remember the victims: political cartoonists, journalists and police officers among them.
Their voices then filled the night with a chorus of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
"With these candles, we're symbolically taking back the night and saying, not only will we not stop our expression of freedom, but we will get louder and we will join together,” a woman yelled to the crowd.
Gerzevitz was shocked by the news of a mass shooting Wednesday, but it made her realized what other parts of the world face daily.
"It's something really painful for sure, and you realize that it's not only in Paris. It happens every day, everywhere right now: Syria, Iraq, Iran. I mean, it's not only Paris, and that's what hurts me. That’s why I'm here today,” Gerzevitz said.
But instead of bringing France to its knees, it raised the people up, the group said.