URI students, professor march in solidarity with French citizens following attacks on magazine

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Students to share experiences during roundtable talk Feb. 11

KINGSTON, R.I.– February 9, 2015 – University of Rhode Island French Professor Lars Erickson received a communiqué from the U.S. Department of State cautioning American citizens about participating in mass demonstrations after the massacre at the Paris satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

Erickson, who arrived in Paris by train the day after the Jan. 7 attacks, considered the notice until he spoke with the four URI students traveling with him as part of URI’s J Term program, which allows students to take classes during winter break and to travel with professors for unique international experiences and academic credit.

“But my students said, ‘We are here at a historic moment, and we want to take part in the Sunday (Jan. 11) rally,” Erickson said. “I was deeply impressed that they wanted to express their support for free expression and the French people. Without a doubt, it was the most moving public event I have ever been a part of.”

Erickson his students and other URI professors will offer their “Perspectives on the Charlie Hebdo Attacks” during a free, public roundtable Wednesday, Feb. 11 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Senate Chambers (Room 300), 50 Lower College Road. Refreshments will be served.

As Erickson and his students marched with the more than 1 million French citizens, he knew he made the right decision when he observed a conversation between one of his students and a local citizen.

“This older French gentleman was asking my student, Ian Kanterman about his GoPro camera and how it worked,” Erickson said. “He was telling Ian about the importance of the moment.”

And then as the man finished his remarks, Kanterman, a URI French International Engineering Program student, shouted out, Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, the slogan of the French Republic, which means Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood.

“The man was so pleased with Ian’s response that he just beamed,” Erickson said. “He was just so impressed that Ian said it in French with such passion.”

The gray-haired, mustachioed man can be seen waving in the video shot by Kanterman.