A Facebook page promoting the rally — scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Union Square — had 1,500 planned attendees as of 5:30 p.m.
Camille Brochier, the rally organizer, said she’d heard about similar events going on in France — under the banner “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie” — and wanted to pitch in:
As a French woman living abroad, I too feel the need to gather with my fellow countrymen (and everyone who wants to join) to show our support to Charlie Hebdo and Freedom of Speech, and to express our deep sadness.
Twelve people were killed in the attack, which police believe was carried out by Muslim extremists, after gunmen stormed the magazine’s headquarters in Paris with assault rifles early Tuesday morning.
The magazine — which has a long history of irreverent, acerbic commentary on current affairs — was apparently targeted because of its habit of publishing provocative images mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The publication’s offices had been targeted previously, in a 2011 firebombing, after it published an issue “guest edited” by Muhammad. The magazine’s editor in chief, the outspoken Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, who was killed in the attack, was under police protection at the time of the assault.
Brochier, 34, said she heard about the military-style attack from a friend on her way to work this morning. She has fond early memories of one of the cartoonists killed; Jean Cabut — known by his nickname, Cabu — had been featured for a time on Club Dorothée, a children’s television show.
“He would be there, and he would draw caricatures of the people presenting the show. One of the hosts, she had a big nose, and he would always make fun of her for that,” Brochier recalls. “I’ve been familiar with him ever since I was a little girl.”
Two police officers and eight journalists were among those killed in the attack. The gunmen managed to escape, and a manhunt continues in Paris.