Hundreds gather on steps of San Francisco City Hall in solidarity with Paris

Across America, people are gathering to show sympathy and solidarity with France, in the wake of Friday's terrorist attacks. Hundreds gathered Sunday afternoon outside San Francisco City Hall and  the French Consulate for remembrance and a moment of silence between 3-3:30 p.m.

"I want to say thank you," Consul General of France in San Francisco Pauline Carmona told the crowd. "Thank you for your support in such a difficult moment." 

The consulate continues to be a gathering place for mourners, and those wanting to express their sadness and respect.

The event was organized through a Facebook page for French in San Francisco. "This event is very unique for us. We usually have social events," explained organizer Erwan Leroy. "Very soon we have to close the street behind. In a way I'm very happy about the gathering, but deeply saddened by what happened in Paris."

More than 130 people died in Friday's coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. Many more were injured.

Countless others from Paris and beyond were left with the feeling that no place is safe. "Oh, definitely," said Leroy. "They want to change our culture. They want to change our freedom, our way of life. We're showing today that won't happen."

The San Francisco gathering had a heavy police presence including rooftop snipers. San Francisco Police officers could be seen on the street level, on the steps of City Hall, as well as a lookout on a nearby rooftop.

The mood of the gathering alternated between solemn and defiant. On a couple of occasions the crowd broke into song, belting out the French national anthem.

"It's really moving," said French tourist, Laurence Guignard. "Because we can see that every country is here when another country needs him."

The French Consulate's office will be open to the public Monday so people can sign a book of condolences.

Saturday evening, the crowd swelled to more than 100, spilling off the sidewalk and into the street, as police guided traffic.

They left behind dozens of messages, mementos and floral bouquets.  

"I'm so sorry for what happened in Paris," mourner Ellie Marandi told KTVU.

Marandi is Iranian born, but a U.S. citizen for five years. She wrote the words "freedom, equality, brotherhood" on a message board, and said she was horrified at the violent extremism.    

"They're just killing and proceeding, just killing, expanding their kingdom with blood, so it's sad," lamented Marandi.

South of Market Street, in Yerba Buena Gardens, a simultaneous  show of solidarity was held, as a few hundred people gathered on the lawn.

Candles, were their only light. Quiet conversation, the only sound, except for church bells tolling across the street.

"I think it's comparable to September 11th," French immigrant Beatrice Tarka told KTVU.

The shock and sadness are reminiscent of the terror attacks of 2001. So too, is the support coming from all over the world, and the sense of defiance.  

Tarka expressed what many expatriates feel, that fear must be rebuffed and the terrorists defeated.

"They're killing our children, our brothers, sisters, parents and I think the message is very clear, we're going to do whatever needs to be done to stop it."

Among those gazing in silence at the consulate, a sixteen year old exchange student from France.

"It's hard when it's in your own country and you're not there when it's happening," admitted Illona Pasqualini to KTVU.

"My mom and I talked about whether I should come back, but she thinks it's better that I'm here and not there, because I'm safer."

As safe as anyplace seems, after more innocent lives are extinguished, in the name of rage and radicalism.

"I don't think it's over," observed Pasqualini, "and I think we'll have more of it in France. Scary, but we have to deal with it. "