Hero lock picker opens parks across Paris at night
dennisvdw/iStockBy IBTISSEM GUENFOUD, ABC News
(PARIS) — A mysterious man known only by the name “Jose” has become a hero to many across Paris. The reason? He has been unlocking some of Paris’ closed gardens and opening them up to the public in the middle of the night.
“At night, it’s a Batman atmosphere…”, one Parisian told the local daily Le Parisien.
In Paris, many public parks are still closed day and night due to lingering lockdown measures in the most affected regions by the coronavirus pandemic in France — much to the displeasure of the city’s inhabitants.
Paris police received a heavy backlash last week after they cleared the lawns of Les Invalides park in central Paris where groups of people were sitting on grass and picnicking. Although parks have reopened in France’s “green zones” with fewer coronavirus cases, Paris’ parks remained closed while shops and schools opened their doors again on May 11.
The parks which the mysterious “Jose” targets are mostly located in Paris’s lower-income neighborhoods, according to Le Parisien.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has been pleading with the government for the reopening of Parisian parks and gardens, along with 24 mayors of the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb who demanded in an open letter to Prime Minister Édouard Philippe the reopening of the department’s large parks and green spaces.
The government, however, has refused calls to do so for the time being.
“Let us breathe” exclaim the elected officials in the letter which BFM Paris obtained a copy of. They believe that “far from existing prejudice, the inhabitants of the Seine-Saint-Denis have respected confinement,” even better in “popular suburban towns than in certain chic districts of the capital.”
But as temperatures have hit a balmy 86 degrees this week, “Jose” has been giving a little bit more oxygen to joggers and kids who would brave the lockdown law.
“In Paris, the apartments are small … We are deconfined, but there is nothing to do, everything is closed,” he told Le Parisien.
Two handwritten posters hanging from the railings of the Parc de Belleville on Friday said “Thank you, Jose!” according to the Local newspaper.
“Jose”, however, is playing a risky game. If he is caught, picking the padlock of a public garden is an offense punishable by five years imprisonment and a fine of 75,000 euros (82,000 U.S. dollars).
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