Lifestyle Culture and Society 23 Apr 2019 Homeless activists o ...

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand 'a roof too'

Published Apr 23, 2019, 3:14 pm IST
Updated Apr 23, 2019, 3:14 pm IST
Public housing advocates held a silent protest outside the gutted Notre-Dame, bringing the issue of homelessness into the spotlight.
People fix a banner that reads,
 People fix a banner that reads, "Notre-Dame is roofless, we too!" in French, during a protest in front of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday. (Photo: AP)

Paris: Dozens of public housing advocates protested outside the gutted Notre-Dame in Paris on Monday to demand that France’s poorest be remembered after donors pledged USD 1 billion to rebuild the cathedral and its destroyed roof.

Around 50 people from a French homeless association gathered with placards reading “1 billion in 24 hours.” They chanted slogans directed at Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury group LVMH, who last week pledged 200 million euros (USD 226 million). Some chanted “Notre-Dame needs a roof, we need a roof too!”


“We are here to somewhat denounce these billionaires, who show off by funding Notre-Dame’s rebuilding,” Jean-Baptiste Eyraut, the spokesman for the Right To Housing association, told The Associated Press. Paris police monitored the peaceful protest on the central Paris island, on which Notre-Dame is located but didn’t intervene and the protest dispersed after several hours.

In addition to Arnault’s pledge, another billionaire, Francois Pinault and his son pledged 100 million euros for the reconstruction effort from their holding company Artemis, which owns the Christie’s auction house and is the main shareholder in Gucci. After Easter Mass on Sunday, Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said authorities ought to “rethink the whole island and make a place for the poor.”

The archbishop added, “The poor and the homeless are at home here (in Notre-Dame). They can always go and get warm in a church and they know they won’t be kicked out.”