Protest or Art?

I’m living in the 18th arrondisment in Paris. It’s definitely not the best neighbourhood, but not the worst either. The streets generally smell like piss despite there being FREE public toilets set up for use. There are at least two tent cities within 5 blocks of my house that I’ve noticed. There is garbage everywhere, stations of contraband laid out on blankets, and the hum of young men selling Marlboro cigarettes outside the metro station and by the park. Men greatly outnumber the women, at least in public. I’ve passed by many restaurants that are full, and not one woman inside. I pass 20-30 men on the street before I pass a woman. It doesn’t bother me so much as concerns me. I don’t feel unsafe, but I wonder why the other women aren’t dining in those places or walking along the streets. Perhaps they know something I don’t.

Since I’ve decided to drop school, and to be quite frank, now that I have a SIM card for my phone, I’ve been going on lots of long walks with three intentions: to get exercise, to see more of Paris, and admittedly, to hatch eggs in Pokemon Go. The latter actually helps me see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, as stops and gyms are at “landmarks” more or less. On these walks I’ve begun to notice a startling trend: vehicles being tagged.

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This was the first one I noticed just outside of Paris on my walk along the canal. Not long after, I discovered a car with the back half burned out. I was going to take a picture, but there was a group of tough-looking men standing by, and I didn’t want to risk anything. Now that I have seen them, I’ve been noticing them more often.

On my way back from a walk, just 2 blocks from my house I discovered this one:

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And on another night, I saw two vehicles tagged, just down the street from me, less than 1 minute away:

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I have never seen anything like this anywhere else I’ve been in the world.

I remember a few years ago, that during some protests, the French were burning vehicles, so I showed my housemate the pictures and asked her if it was part of an on-going protest. She said she’d never heard of it or seen anything like it before. Then again, she is new to this side of Paris.

The pictures I have posted are just a few examples. I’ve seen many more these past few days. I will have to do more research. But again I ask the question: are these examples of protest? Art? Or just the result of inconsiderate people having “fun” destroying others’ property?

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