EVIAN SUMMIT: DEMONSTRATIONS - Sporadic Violence by Anarchists Mars Peaceful G8 Protests

By Lichfield, John | The Independent (London, England), June 2, 2003 | Go to article overview
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EVIAN SUMMIT: DEMONSTRATIONS - Sporadic Violence by Anarchists Mars Peaceful G8 Protests


Lichfield, John, The Independent (London, England)


THE WELL-meaning young man in smart clothes shouted angrily at the hooded French anarchists spray-painting "smash capitalism", in English, on someone's garage door.

The same gang had just vandalised a BP petrol station a little further down the street.

"We are here to protest peacefully. Why do you do this?" the courageous young man demanded.

One of the anarchists - one of the few not wearing a hood - came forward and grabbed him by the throat. "We don't believe in capitalist peace," he shouted in the young man's face. The crowd hustled him away.

Sporadic and sometimes intense violence by young, anarchist demonstrators disturbed a mostly well-behaved day of protest against the G8 summit yesterday. The protesters - both violent and peaceful - were prevented from coming within 30 miles of Evian, on the French shore of Lake Geneva, where the summit of the world's leaders is being held.

The great majority of the 50,000 or so protesters were content to follow the route of two marches, which started from Geneva and the French town of Annemasse. The demonstrations converged on a meadow and a border post on the Franco-Swiss border. The two crowds mingled briefly, lay down in the road and the grass, to protest against Aids, President George Bush, the Iraqi war, capitalism and globalism, and then dispersed.

A few roving bands of demonstrators tried all day to seek confrontation with the French and Swiss police (who responded with admirable restraint). In Geneva, from early morning, a group of 100 or so protesters blocked the city's main bridge, the Pont Mont Blanc, with a burning barricade and ran through the streets, smashing any shop window that was not boarded up.

In Lausanne, across Lake Geneva from Evian, 200 or so protesters in black masks smashed phone booths and signs, looted a supermarket and threw stones at police guarding two hotels used by delegations.

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