A man dubbed the ‘Spider-Man’ of Paris climbed four storeys up a building to rescue a dangling boy.
French President Macron has offered the Malian migrant hero French citizenship.
“I Just Climbed Up”
Mamoudou Gassama, an undocumented migrant in France, was walking to a football game when he heard people shouting and car horns honking. He spotted a young boy dangling by his hand from a fourth-floor balcony.
“I didn’t think twice,” said Gassama. “I just climbed up.”
Despite the fact that he would typically prefer to avoid drawing attention, when he saw the child in danger, he had to act. The 22 year-old didn’t think of himself. He didn’t consider that he could be discovered and risk being deported to Mali. Instead, he started climbing.
Video of the incredible feat made Gassama’s climb from one balcony to the next look easy. He drew himself up from one floor to the next before taking hold of the crying four year-old’s arm and lifting him safely onto the inside of the balcony.
The video rapidly spread through social media, where Gassama rapidly became recognized for his heroics. The spotlight then shifted onto his status as one of many “sans papiers” (without papers) migrants in France. As an undocumented migrant, Gassama did not have official access to housing or employment. In fact, he did not have the right to stay in France.
Meeting the President at Élysée Palace
Instead of being deported, Gassama’s next trip was to Élysée Palace, where he met with President Emmanuel Macron. After sitting with the president, he was promised the documentation he needs to remain within France. Furthermore, Macron promised Gassama a fast-track process to obtain French citizenship.
Gassama has been offered a position with the Paris sapeurs pompiers, the fire and emergency service of the capital city. That said, before starting with his new job, he has already received a medal from Macron. It was awarded for Gassama’s act of “bravery and devotion” and was signed by the police prefect, which declares the gratitude of the French Republic.
Talking to Macron
Gassama shared the story of the child’s rescue to Macron in the place’s reception room where it was recorded. He humbly described having spotted the child dangling from the balcony rail on Saturday evening around 8pm. He said he acted “without thinking.”
“There were people shouting and honking their horns … I didn’t think of anything, I ran across the road directly to save him. Thank God I saved him,” he said. He also added that it wasn’t until the child had been pulled to safety that he realized what he’d accomplished.
“My legs went wobbly when I got inside the flat,” he said.
“Bravo,” Macron replied.