A prayer vigil was held in San Francisco on Saturday to honor the 84 people who died and hundreds more who were injured Thursday during the attack in Nice, France, in which a deranged man driving a rented truck mowed down a crowd of people celebrating the country’s Bastille Day.
People from across the Bay Area flocked to city center, where city hall was expected to turn blue, white and red after dark in honor of France. The spot has become a rallying point for the growing number of vigils that follow acts of mass violence.
Attendees wrote letters of prayer and well wishes on large white posters laid out on the ground next to candles and flowers.
French transplants in the city mourned the loss especially hard, saying that they were grappling with grief that was amplified by homesickness.
“We’re just really really sad, and I was just saying I’m not sure there is a really good solution to this problem,” said Laurent Dedien. “That’s the hardest thing to take right now, you know? When is it going to stop?”
Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, the Consul General of France in San Francisco, spoke to the gathering crowd of about 100 people, talking mainly about Bastille Day and its symbolism as a day of freedom and pride. He said that the attacks against France are an attack against the value of freedom, echoing statements made by President Obama and Francois Hollande in the days following the attack.
Like the two presidents, the Lebrun-Damiens urged listeners to put fear aside and continue living life without worrying of terror attacks, implying that changes in the daily routine would allow the terrorists to succeed in their ultimate goal.
“We will never give into the terrorist threat,” he said, as members in the crowd wiped away tears and applauded.
The attack in Nice shocked the world on Thursday, prompting solidarity vigils to pop up around the globe.
Several American citizens were injured in the attack, including two UC Berkeley students, and at least two Americans from Texas were killed, one of whom was 11. A third UC Berkeley student is still missing, although friends and family are not giving up hope.
The driver of the rented refrigerated truck has been identified as Tunisia citizen Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who had a record of petty crime. Although ISIS has touted the attack as one carried out by a "brother," authorities have said that he was not on any watch lists and people close to the attacker have said he was not religious or affiliated with the terrorist group.