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Swiss police clash with protesters, arrest 60

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    Swiss police clash with anti-Davos protesters, arrest 60 (AFP) 1 February 2009
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2009
      Swiss police clash with anti-Davos protesters, arrest 60
      1 February 2009

      GENEVA - Swiss police clashed with demonstrators against the Davos
      forum on Saturday, firing tear gas in central Geneva after officers
      were pelted with bottles and fireworks.

      Sixty people were arrested after hundreds of protestors converged on
      the centre of Geneva to protest against the World Economic Forum in
      Davos in defiance of a ban imposed by local authorities, a police
      spokesman said.

      Organisers had appealed for calm, while attacking the ban on the march.

      But bottles and firecrackers were thrown at the riot police who
      charged the demonstrators, using teargas grenades.

      "Around 60 people were arrested, of whom 20 have already been
      released," police spokesman Jean-Philippe Brandt said two hours after
      the start of the protest.

      He said no injuries had been reported on either side, adding that most
      demonstrators had been dispersed and only a hard core of some 100
      radicals were being contained by police.

      After tentatively allowing the rally to go ahead, the regional
      government said earlier this month the organisers of the demonstration
      had been unable to provide sufficient security guarantees to stage the
      event in the western Swiss city.

      Police equipped with a water cannon had blocked the planned route of
      the march, while participants were systematically checked and their
      bags searched.

      In Davos itself, a group of several dozen protestors marched through
      the snow-covered Alpine village, holding a giant banner that read "You
      Are The Crisis".

      Another small group chanting "No To the WEF" threw fake blood on
      security barriers and ripped down sheeting on the perimeter.

      Anti-globalisation groups frequently protest against the annual
      meeting of the select group of the world's business and political
      elite in the eastern mountain resort of Davos, although demonstrations
      have subsided in recent years.

      Laurent Moutinot, the Geneva canton's minister in charge of home
      affairs and policing, said last week, "We're not facing a popular
      movement, but a group of people who deliberately aim to come here for
      a bust-up."

      Banners being carried Saturday called for freedom of expression and
      attacked the "capitalist swindle", claiming that "the blackmailers of
      the WEF are mortgaging our future."

      Some demonstrators disguised as clowns attempted to provoke the police
      by ridiculing them.

      Later Saturday a "large group" returning to the capital Bern from the
      Geneva protest tried to hold a demonstration but were dispersed by
      security forces who used teargas and rubber bullets, Bern police
      spokesman Franz Maerki said.

      Organizers protested strongly over the banning of the Geneva
      demonstration, with Eric Decarro of the Solidarites union declaring:
      "The government of Geneva canton banned a demonstration for the first
      time in 35 years."

      Earlier this month a Swiss group of "anarchist and communist political
      forces" put out posters depicting fiery images of masked protestors,
      calling for people to join the "revolutionary block" or to "smash WEF."

      That stirred up memories in Geneva of protests against a meeting of G8
      industrialised countries in nearby France in 2003, which turned into
      running overnight battles between rioters and police and left shops

      Although the Davos meeting takes place on the other side of the
      country, the WEF's administrative headquarters are just outside Geneva
      and the prosperous city's private banks and commodity traders are
      taken as something of a symbol for capitalism.

      Davos, perched high in the Alps, is also cordoned off by a massive
      security operation during the event, but a small authorised
      demonstration of a few dozen people took place there Saturday.

      Police kept a low profile, and only some symbolic snowballs and a few
      shoes were thrown by the protesters.



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