Stand with Paris: Minnesotans show support, share stories after deadly attacks


The Interstate 35W bridge will glow blue, white and red again Sunday night to show support for France following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night.

A post shared by Migeel Jones (@migeeljones) on Nov 14, 2015 at 6:17pm PST

It's among many tributes to the European nation following the attacks that killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds of others, many critically.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation lit the bridge in the French national colors Saturday night, following a trend worldwide where famous structures were lit up to resemble the tricolored French flag, including the lift bridge in Duluth.

These are among the many tributes coming in across the state.

The Alliance Française of the Twin Cities, a group that promotes French culture, held a memorial march and service Sunday afternoon along Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis which ended at the Basilica of St. Mary.

The Minnesota Orchestra dedicated its concert Friday night to the people of France, the Pioneer Press says.

And before the Minnesota Wild played the Dallas Stars in Texas Saturday night, the teams paid tribute to Paris, including playing the French national anthem.

'Chaos': Minnesotans in Paris describe the scene

Several Minnesotans were in Paris at the time of the attacks and they have been sharing their experiences with local media outlets.

The Star Tribune has been gathering first-hand accounts of the Paris attacks from Minnesotans overseas, including from local meteorologist Paul Douglas.

On Friday night, he was on a flight to Israel and had a layover in Paris. He told the paper the flight to France was "surreal, tense and emotional."

WCCO also spoke with two Minnesota natives about the tragedy. Margo Schmorak, a Minnesota native who now lives in California, was in Paris on business. She was having dinner at a restaurant less than a block from one of the shootings, when they heard gunshots and hid in the restaurant. She said outside the restaurant was chaos.

Emily Bisbach, a native of Minneapolis who works as a tour guide in Paris, told the news station the day after the attack, the French people were already trying to continue with everyday life, saying: "That's just kind of the vibe you're getting – just a solid, united front."

Bucky Beeman, of Rochester, was in Paris for a business trip at the time of the attacks, telling ABC 6 that the city is coping, and also thanked everyone for their support.

A former food columnist with the Pioneer Press was in City of Lights at the time of the attack, telling the paper she had brought a group of about 18 Minnesotans to Paris for a few days as part of a food tour through Europe. Eleanor Ostman didn't notice anything unusual the night of the attacks, but at the airport the next day for their scheduled flight home there were "very long lines and soldiers with automatic weapons." She also said it was unusual to see the Eiffel Tower dark.

KARE 11 was at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Saturday when the first Minnesota-bound flight arrived from Paris since the attacks. Abbi Butterfield left for Paris Thursday for a two-week trip – she came back Saturday after the attacks.

She told the news station: "It's a very strange feeling because you're torn between relief that you're not there and also a little bit of feeling like you kind of ran away and it's just a little bit of a powerless feeling."

Others on the flight told KARE 11 that everyone was "shocked" at what had happened.

KARE 11 also highlighted the story of a Minneapolis' woman's sister, who was setting up an art gallery around the corner from where one of the shootings occurred. She and others spent six hours in the basement of the gallery as they heard gunshots from around the city.

The news station also spoke with Minnesotans who struggled to get ahold of their loved ones in Paris in the hours after the attacks.

MN officials react

There have been no credible threats made to the United States following the attacks, but that hasn't stopped officials around the country from increasing security, Reuters reports, including in Minnesota.

The Mall of America, a place that has been named a target by extremists in the past, says it will remain vigilant following the attacks, but Bloomington police have said it won't be increase its presence at the mall. Officials say it already has an increased presence at the mall, which is typical around the holiday season.

Minneapolis police and the FBI in Minneapolis, along with other law enforcement officials, told FOX 9 they will continue to monitor the situation in France.

The attacks also brought swift reaction from a local civil rights and advocacy group for Muslims. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has denounced the attacks on Paris, in a statement:

"These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are unacceptable and inexcusable. We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured and with all of France. The perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be apprehended and brought to justice. "

The latest on the Paris attacks

Law enforcement officials continue to hunt suspects involved in the terrorist attack. The Guardian is among many media outlets keeping a live blog and updating stories as they develop. CNN also has a breakdown of "what we know so far."

Some of the latest news:

  • Seven attackers were killed in the attacks Friday, however an eighth suspect is believed to be at large. There's a massive manhunt out to find him, the New York Times says.
  • Meanwhile, at least seven other people linked to the Paris attacks have been detained following raids in Brussels, The Guardian notes.
  • Information about who the suspects are is starting to be released. At least two suspects have been identified as French citizens who lived in the Brussels area, CNN says. And at least one of the attackers appears to have entered the European Union with refugees fleeing Syria. Two others carried false Turkish passports, CNN notes.

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