EU Summit: Protestors Clash with Police
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Published Friday, Dec. 8, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News
EUROPEAN UNION SUMMIT
Violent protests bracket EU economic meeting
BY RAY MOSELEY
NICE, France -- Four thousand political extremists attacked
banks, looted shops and wrecked cars Thursday in the center
of this Riviera resort as European leaders opened their most
important summit meeting in many years.
Police retaliated with tear gas and clubs, and 20 officers
were injured, at least one seriously, by the rock-throwing
demonstrators, who were denounced by French President
Jacques Chirac and other European leaders.
The demonstrators, including anarchists as well as
extremists from the left and right, appeared to have been
inspired by anti-capitalist, anti-globalization street
protests that disrupted world trade talks in Seattle last
At a branch office of the Banque Nationale de Paris, a few
blocks from the summit conference center, the demonstrators
torched the facade with a Molotov cocktail, smashed windows
and glass doors, hurled paint at the building, dragged bank
computers into the street and smashed them, then set fires
inside the bank.
They spray-painted ``Death to money'' in French and ``Smash
capital'' in Spanish on the front of the bank. At a nearby
savings bank they smeared paint over an ATM and
spray-painted on a wall, ``Police everywhere, justice
nowhere.'' Several blocks away, they wrecked cars and
smashed shop windows.
The demonstrators, hiding their faces behind masks,
identified themselves in graffiti as members of ETA, the
Basque separatist movement in Spain; Direct Action, a French
anarchist group; the National Front, a French right-wing,
anti-immigrant party; and Italian young Communists.
The early-morning violence coincided with the opening of a
European Union summit whose main task is to adopt a treaty
that will prepare the 15-nation European Union for expansion
to 27 or more members, most from Eastern Europe. Expansion
will require changes in voting among members, dropping
national vetoes on some issues and other reforms.
The summit is scheduled to end Saturday, but divisions among
European leaders on many key issues run so deep that French
officials say the meeting is likely to continue on Sunday
and may even run into Monday. That would make it the longest
summit in EU history.
At a news conference, Chirac, the summit host, condemned the
protesters and said they tried to stop fire trucks from
reaching the scene of the bank fire they set.
``This sort of behavior is a disservice to democracy and
inappropriate,'' he said. ``It shows that a small number of
people prefer to have recourse to violence rather than
demonstrating peacefully in full respect for others.''
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said the demonstrators
had been ``quite scandalously engaging in violence. They
would like to stop the summit, something that in France and
Europe is beyond their powers.''
Jospin said everyone wants globalization regulated, and the
protesters ``dishonor the cause they seek to defend.'' He
drew a contrast between their violence and a peaceful
demonstration by 60,000 European trade unionists Wednesday
evening in support of more employment protection and other
European Commission President Romano Prodi said the violence
was ``utterly intolerable.''
In its main business of the day, the summit issued a
proclamation titled ``A Charter of Fundamental Rights of the
European Union.'' The charter covers many issues, ranging
from condemnation of capital punishment to defense of the
right of free expression.
Inspired mainly by the French presidency of the European
Union, the document is controversial because of various
clauses dealing with workers' rights. The French and others
wanted the charter to be part of the treaty adopted at the
summit, but in the face of opposition agreed to issue it as
a non-binding proclamation instead.
Friday 8 December 2000
Rioters, police clash at EU meeting
Leftists, anarchists blame trade bloc for host of social
Los Angeles Times
Protesters ran amok in the chic, palm-lined streets of the
Riviera's main resort city and police fought back with tear
gas and stun grenades Thursday as the European Union opened
its most important meeting in a decade.
For the rioters, a motley collection of leftist
revolutionaries, anarchists and separatists, the 15-nation
EU is a cog in the process of globalization that they blame
for many of the world's ills.
As the trade bloc's leaders gathered in the morning at a
squat downtown conference centre aptly nicknamed "The
Bunker" by Nice residents, an estimated 4,000 demonstrators
set upon the site and got within 100 yards.
Young men, many of whom wore cowls or kerchiefs to hide
their faces, hurled rocks, set fire to a bank branch, tossed
fire extinguishers through shop windows and painted slogans
such as "Death to Money" on storefronts.
French officials, hosts for the Nice summit, had vowed that
there would be none of the embarrassing mayhem here that
disturbed last year's World Trade Organization meeting in
Seattle or the International Monetary Fund's gathering in
September in Prague, Czech Republic.
Choking clouds of smoke wafted in the direction of the
convention centre, making French President Jacques Chirac
sneeze as he stood outside to greet foreign leaders. Some
dignitaries, including leaders of other countries that want
to join the EU, coughed and mopped their eyes.
"These acts are radically contrary to the democratic
traditions of all European countries," Chirac later said in
disgust. Authorities said 20 police officers were hurt in
the fracas on Nice's rain-slicked streets, one seriously.
Forty-five protesters were arrested.
The Nice summit is considered the EU's most crucial since
the 1991 Maastricht Treaty, which laid the basis for a
common European currency, the euro, and serious
consideration of common policies in fields including
defence, citizenship and protection of the environment.
The agenda here calls for the EU to reform its inner
mechanisms so it can function after absorbing new members,
chiefly ex-communist countries in Eastern and Central
Europe. Twelve nations are negotiating to join, including
the three former Baltic republics of the Soviet Union.
Protesters riot as EU leaders hold meeting to urge unity
Friday, December 08, 2000
By PAUL AMES
NICE, France - Hundreds of stone-throwing protesters rushed
barricades around a conference center where European leaders
met yesterday for a milestone summit on unity. French riot
police drove them back with tear gas and stun grenades, and
45 were detained.
The clashes, which recalled similar demonstrations that have
marred other high-profile international gatherings in recent
months, created scenes of chaos in this resort Riviera city.
Some banks and businesses were covered in graffiti - with
slogans ranging from "Long live ETA," referring to the
violent Basque separatist group, to "Death to Money."
Streets were littered with stones, pieces of wood, broken
signs and used tear gas canisters.
Tear gas wafted across the entrance to the mammoth, concrete
building during the morning confrontation, causing French
President Jacques Chirac to sneeze and Prime Minister Lionel
Jospin to step away from photographers so he could blow his
Chirac later harshly criticized the violence. "We solemnly
condemn these acts. They are radically opposed to the
democratic traditions of all our countries," he told a news
At least 20 police officers were slightly injured in the
clashes, and 45 protesters were detained.
Although the violence was reminiscent of the chaos wrought
by protesters on the Seattle meeting of the World Trade
Organization last year, the thousands of demonstrators in
Nice seemed to have no central command and to lack
organization. Most were southern European students rather
than full-time activists for their cause.
A ragtag group of several hundred Spanish anarchists,
radical trade unionists, and Basque and Corsican separatists
fought pitched battles with the police as they sought to
break through the ring of steel encircling the Acropolis
The demonstrators made their way to within about 300 feet of
the centers main entrance, where the leaders of the 15
European Union nations arrived one by one along with the
heads of 13 countries due to join the bloc in the coming
years ahead. But police then pushed the rioters back.
Undeterred by the violence, the EU leaders opened the
three-day summit knowing that failure to surmount deep
disagreements over how to share power could plunge the bloc
into crisis and delay hopes of ending the continents Cold
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