NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As people around the world mourn those killed in the terror attacks in Paris, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the French Consulate before heading to a vigil in Washington Square Park.
A pensive crowd gathered Saturday under the monument, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a city on the minds and in the hearts of New Yorkers and Parisians.
“People in France right now don’t have the chance to come out on the streets and express their distress and their anger, so we have to do it here in New York,” said Midtown resident Kate Johnson.
Under the arch, an accordion played French music as people signed a large banner for the people of France, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Many carried French flags and wore the blue, white and red of France in a crowd estimated to be over 1,000.
“The only answer to terrorism is to be resolute to not allow the terrorists to change who we are. We must refuse to be terrorized,” de Blasio said to the crowd. “We won’t change our democracy. We won’t change our values.”
Attendees left flowers at the arch, turning it in to a makeshift memorial, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
Julien Jung, a French citizen living in New York, said his friends were wounded at the Bataclan concert hall, but will survive their injuries. He expressed his gratitude for how New York, which suffered on 9/11, is now showing its support.
“They must know what people in Paris feel like and we really appreciate that as French people here,” he told CBS2’s Steve Langford.
French citizens living in New York, who number in the tens of thousands, are deeply shocked at the new reality in their homeland.
“We always associated bombing with Beirut, but now Paris is Beirut and that is something that is so new to us,” said Marie-Monique Steckel, director-general at the French Institute.
The father of a French family visiting New York City this week said he was touched by all of the outpouring of support. He said they had visited the World Trade Center on Friday.
The New Jersey father of an 18-year-old taking a year off in Paris to live with French relatives described calling his son there when he got word of the attacks.
“My son, picked up the phone. He was in the car with my brother and actually they were fleeing from the scene,” Jean-Francois Gueguen told Langford.
Malo Gueguen was in the Paris neighborhood hit by the worst attacks and spoke to CBS2.
“I had the adrenaline going through me, I knew it was bad but I didn’t know the extent of what was going on,” Gueguen said.
One American is confirmed dead in the terror attacks that killed 129 and injured at least 352 Friday night.
The Islamic State terror group has taken responsibility for the coordinated gun-and-suicide bombing attacks on six locations throughout the city, including the concert hall where 89 people were killed.
French President Francois Hollande has vowed “mercilous” retaliation against ISIS.
The NYPD has stepped up security across New York City in wake of the deadly attacks.
Counterterrorism units have been deployed throughout the city and police stand guard outside the French Consulate on the Upper East Side, though de Blasio has stressed there is no threat against New York City at this time.