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by Brick Walters, 4/28/00

Dc: The world was watching last week as the drama of little Elliot Gunderson crossed an important watershed. French police posing as tourists surrounded little Elliot and his Paris relatives at a charming outdoor café, and recklessly brandishing their point and shoot cameras, the police shepherded Elliot into a waiting transport which whisked him away to a reunion with his father at Euro Disney.
As news of the official "abduction" spread, the American expatriate community issued angry words of protest. Brick Walters reports.

Brick: Disgruntled Parisians filled the streets today, muttering to themselves about the complete absence of even a shred of elegance or fun in American culture. In that sense, it was a day like any other.
But in the American expatriate community, otherwise known as "little Hoboken," people were even more vocal in their protests.

(sfx: milling crowd)

Disgruntled French woman: They put a baseball cap on his head and pushed him into the bus like he was a member of some sightseeing group! I saw the fear on his face. Perhaps he thought he was going to the Eiffel Tower again! He was humiliated.

Disgruntled French man: I saw Elliot removed from the café by force … a croissant was left sitting on the table! They took him during a meal! That is an insult!

(sfx: crowd out)

Brick: Elliot Gunderson's Paris relatives have lodged a formal protest with the American embassy. The couple, Tom and Patty Gunderson, were particularly upset once they learned about the plans for reuniting the boy with his father.

(sfx: café w/ accordion in bg)

Tom: The idea of taking that child to Euro Disney!

Patty: He doesn't know what that's about! We've spent months treating him to French culture. He hungers for subtlety! Style!

Tom: He's been to the Paris Opera. And the Louvre.

Patty: And that Jerry Lewis film festival!

Tom: The boy knows art.

Patty: He'll be traumatized by the saccharine, empty abominations of the whole Euro Disney milieu!

Brick: But in the pictures released by the American embassy … Elliot seems to be having fun.

Tom: No, no, no! In the one with Goofy, I can see confusion on Elliot's face. True, Goofy doesn't speak … but Elliot knows he is not a REAL mime.

Patty: And they won't let us visit! The efforts to set up a meeting … they weren't serious. (choking up) They wanted us to come to … to come to McDonald's! (weeping)

Tom: This is child abuse!

(sfx: café w/ accordion out)

Brick: But there is also some civility on display in this otherwise edgy and bleak confrontation. As a courtesy, Elliot's father, Michael Gunderson, has agreed to not attempt to leave France until the nation's truckers have had a chance to strike during the boy's stay.
Experts estimate it will be another four weeks before the pair can return home. Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.

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