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Thousands of empty shoes stand in silent protest at Paris' Place de la Republique, a symbolic call for climate change action. Thousands of empty shoes stand in silent protest at Paris’ Place de la Republique, a symbolic call for climate change action.

Paris is in the international spotlight as the city hosts the U.N. Climate Change Conference during a time of mourning after the November terrorist attacks upon the city. As representatives from nearly 200 nations came together to negotiate an agreement for a more sustainable future, their citizens participated in organized demonstrations on public streets and in civic spaces around the world to pressure world leaders for action on climate change.

The collective demonstrations stand in contrast to the “silent protest” staged in Paris by activists who were responding to a ban on mass gatherings after the attacks. A sea of empty shoes, arranged in neat rows on a public plaza, provided powerful imagery of activism at work.

The crowd did not seem to mind the heightened security evident throughout the plaza at last week’s Pershing Square rally. They chanted and cheered with each speaker, and there was a general atmosphere of solidarity and camaraderie. The crowd did not seem to mind the heightened security evident throughout…

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