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(en) Europe, Strategies of repression against the movement at summit

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
From Olivier De Marcellus <elviejo@greenmail.ch>
Date Fri, 11 Feb 2005 10:25:34 +0100 (CET)

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Hi ! This was written for the new anti-rep site made after Aubonne. Maybe it
could be of use for the Tuebingen anti-G8 discussion. --- Viejo
The new « anti-globalisation » movement in the North first totally
surprised the police with their new forms of organization and tactics.
In Seattle, just 8000 young people, very well organised in affinity
groups, blocked the 13 roads leading to the summit meeting (locked down
with tubes and motocycle locks or just holding together) and stopped the
opening for most of the day. The plans for the action were public, but
apparently the cops just didn't imagine that it would be so hard to
break up.

But ever since they have taken us very seriously and their constantly
evolving tactics are shared internationally. We must also watch them and
change accordingly.

Their first major step (trying still to appear non-violent) was to put a
barrage of cops around the summit and get the delegates in very early in
the morning. But as the mobilisations were getting much bigger, it was
still possible for us to surround them and stop the delegates getting out.

In Prague, 20 000 people blocked the IMF/WB summit so well that they had
to leave like rats, by the underground! This was also possible because,
instead of bickering about tactics, the demonstrators organised three
different kinds of demos (a tutti bianchi, a pink samba and a more hard
core one) which converged on the meeting, but didn't interfere with each
other. The next day many delegates didn't dare come and the last day of
the meeting was canceled. Then there was the summit in Barcelona which
was actually abandoned... This was too much for the governments, which
decided to forget about looking democratic.

In Quebec they started a new more aggressive strategy: a no-go zone with
a huge barrier, but also preventive attacks against the demonstrators
before they got to the barrier, so that a real siege could not happen.
This was the scenario again in Genoa, played even more brutally.
(Already in Goteborg, the european heads of state, including the
socialist Jospin, had condoned the use of regular bullets against

The police had also decided to no longer allow the demonstrators to
coordinate different forms of action so easily, by simply agreeing on
« a diversity of tactics ». They deliberately attacked everyone with the
same violence and even drove different kinds of demos into each other,
hoping to create tensions between them. As Berlusconi said the day after
« It wasn't possible to make distinctions among them. »

Simultaneously they were also less and less democratic about the right
to come demonstrate at all. The supposed freedom of movement within the
Schengen countries was regularly suspended and anyone identified in one
demo could be denied entry (often for several years!) if they tried
coming to another. (These measures are quite illegal and generally don't
stand up to a legal appeal, but by that time its over.) Attacks and
intrusions on convergence centers before the demos also became more

Despite all this, the big protests continued and it was difficult to
totally ban them as they remained very popular (more than 60% of
europeans polled after Genoa for example). The current tactics of the
police and authorities may well be to try and make the demos look
violent enough that people will accept the simple denial of this right.

For Davos (Anti-WEF) 2003, the authorities tried a new card (which was
almost simultaneously used against the School of the Assassins demo in
the USA (Yes, they network too!) : A demo would be permitted but only
after the demonstrators had been individually searched and identified.
When the demo refused, it was violently attacked, although miles from

The G8 in Evian was as usual preceded by an incredible fear campaign
(mixing of course demos and terrorist threats, and bringing in more than
20 000 troops and police, more than a hundred helicopters and
warplanes...). At one moment the right wing of the government did try to
have the demos banned outright, but it didn't work. However, they used
the occasion to prepare for the future. The police completely evacuated
the center on the night before the summit, when the most destruction was
done (and unfortunately quite a bit of it was actually against ordinary
people). This was used to justify unprecedented police violence against
the demos (including the police crime at Aubonne or the totally illegal
raid and violence against the Indymedia center) and then a ban on all demos.

For Davos 2004, the organisers, feeling the danger of police escalation,
decided to take a step back from direct confrontation. They called the
demo not in Davos but in Coire, the capital of the canton. The
authorities could have taken this as a satisfactory compromise, but they
seem intent now on eliminating all big demos on the subject, even if
they don't block the meetings. They hi-jacked the train after the demo,
gassed, beat and held prisonner more than a thousand people for hours in
the cold.

Davos 2005 was less violent but almost worse. The main demo was called
this time in the federal capital, very far from Davos. But the city
(majority socialist and greens...) banned the demo! At the last minute
(too late to mobilise), they cleverly authorised something, but the
police were searching and arresting arbitrarily people as they arrived
in Bern. Another anti-WEF demo in Bale was attacked and dispersed with
rubber bullets at close range. At least in Switzerland, they are trying
to not allow anything anywhere! In Bern, the organisers responded by
calling for small groups of decentralised demonstrators, mostly doing
street theatre, etc. I guess it was the best thing to do, but it remains
a tough situation.

*And the next G8?*

It would be interesting to know how these developments in Switzerland
compare to other places. Judging by them (and by the little bit we saw
of english cops at the ESF, where they were already clearly
criminalising the Dissent network) one can imagine that they might try
to totally stifle us, and maybe any big demo against the G8 in Scotland.
First of all, the frontier of GB is much harder to pass than others at
any time. Immigration is as dictatorial and detailed as in the US. Each
person gets checked. I can't imagine any activists known to their local
police getting by just before the summit. And then its a long way to
Scotland and the summit is out in the countryside...

I think that for foreigners a good plan B is maybe more important than
the plan A ! Like blocking all the frontier points? Or demonstrating in
all the capitals? Or against multinationals and consulates of all 8 ?

*And the future?*

Clearly they have less and less qualms about stifling protest. Even
regular union pickets are being criminalised here now. So how do we go
on? Its not about out-fighting or out-running the robocops. Basically,
we will be able to defend the right to protest if we do our protesting
(and other political work) in ways that most people understand and
accept. Its the only thing that might force them to tolerate protests.
(The question isn't really decided here yet. There is also a reaction
against this repression.) Or at least it could open the doors of some
houses when we really need it !

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