Charlie Hebdo ‘survivors’ issue’ quickly sells out in Chicago

By Yanqing Chen, Ellen Kobe, Meghan Tribe and Andersen Xia

Dozens of people lined up at two Chicago-area newsstands hoping to get one of the copies of the “survivors’ issue” of French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo (WARNING: Cover image may be offensive to some) before dawn Friday morning. Within minutes, both City Newsstand in Portage Park and Chicago-Main Newsstand in Evanston sold out the 12 copies made available to the public.

This is the first issue of Charlie Hebdo since two gunmen stormed the magazine’s offices in Paris on Jan. 7, killing 12. Millions of copies of the “survivors’ issue” sold out in France last week, and there has been overwhelming demand for the issue, even on sites such as eBay.

The new edition depicts a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign reading “Je Suis Charlie” (‘I am Charlie’), underneath the words “Tout est pardonné” (‘All is forgiven’).

Demetrius Hall, a 33 year-old from South Shore, said he was the first to arrive at City Newsstand at 2 a.m. He spent the next five hours pacing back and forth, trying to keep warm during the cold night. When the doors opened at 7 a.m., he was the first to purchase a copy.

Waiting for Charlie Hebdo sale
Customers stand outside City Newsstand in Portage Park waiting to purchase a copy of the Charlie Hebdo “survivors’ issue.” Demetrius Hall (left) said he was the first to arrive at the store at 2 a.m. He was also the first to purchase a copy of the weekly magazine. (Ellen Kobe/Medill)

“It’s a small piece of history — not U.S. history — but it’s still history,” he said. “You talk to your friends about it, and your family about it. Just hold onto it and see what happens.”

John Trilik, 57, said that he came to the City Newsstand to support free speech — echoing the “Je Suis Charlie” protests that took place in Paris after the attacks.

“I might not necessarily agree with everything that the newspaper prints, but I think it’s important that we should be able to express our opinions,” Trilik said, holding a piece of paper printed with “Je Suis Charlie” in bold.

But of the dozens lined up at both locations, many were not able to take home a copy of Charlie Hebdo.

Joe Angelastri — owner of both newsstands — anticipates that the stores will receive several hundred more copies of the French-language publication next week. Those who waited outside the stores and did not receive one of the several copies were able to sign up for a pre-paid copy of the magazine that they will pick up Friday, Jan. 30.

One of the many who didn’t receive an immediate copy was Ecaterina Balaceanu, whose family attempted to buy a copy for her in France.

Both City Newsstand and Chicago-Main Newsstand expect to have hundred of copies of Charlie Hebdo’s ‘Survivors’ issue’ available for sale on Friday, January 30th. They are accepting pre-orders. (Medill)

“Physically, I didn’t get a copy, but I actually pre-paid for it, so that means I am getting a copy on Friday, so I’m happy,” she said. “It’s a treasure. I’m probably going to keep it in a safe.”

Eric Ismond, manager of the Evanston location, explained the newsstands’ business decision for selling the publication.

“It’s partly to support the publication,” Ismond said. “But one of our big policies here is to try to carry everything that’s available as far as magazines and newspapers, so we were happy to be able to bring it in when it came available.”

Photo at top: Jean SmilingCoyote, the first customer who waited at Chicago Main-Newsstand in Evanston since 4 a.m. to purchase a copy of Charlie Hebdo “Survivors’ edition,” is being interviewed by floods of media. “I can read the same way that people in Paris get to read it,” she says.(Andersen Xia/Medill)