Jun 06, 2003

The media may be concentrating on the violence, but the main thing for me about the Evian protests was the sheer scale of the turn out.

To get 100,000 people to a protest on the French Swiss border in the foothills of the Alps was fantastic. Just that achievement sends a message to the world that the anti capitalist movement is still growing. Far from being disorientated by the shock and awe of the new imperialist onslaught, we have grown in strength. Almost every bloc in the protests was making links between war and various economic issues.

The second thing that struck me was that like Genoa, Florence, Barcelona etc, the Evian protests were international and local. There were brilliant contingents from Germany, Spain, Britain etc., but most of the demonstrators were from Switzerland and Eastern France, and whatever the authorities would like to believe, the overwhelming majority of those ‘playing cat and mouse’ with the police in downtown Geneva after the demo were from the area.

The reception protestors got from many of the people of Geneva was fantastic.

Never mind the official peace flags on the Mont Blanc bridge, it was the waves from the balconies, the thumbs up from the bus drivers, the friendly chat with pensioners that struck me. The authorities will try and use the trouble to criminalise the protesters, and there must be a big debate raging in the whole area, but its obvious there’s many out there who agree that the violent criminals who matter were the ones living it up in the Red Zone.

The graffiti proved the point. Inadvertently, the banks, jewelry shops and fashion houses of Geneva erected a huge public message board to protect themselves from sticks and stones. Thousands of people used it to write their condemnation of the G8 from every conceivable point of view. They are ‘bloodsuckers’and ‘criminals’and ‘to remain silent is to collaborate’.

One Genevan proudly sprayed up ‘Mai G8 = Mai 68’. I don’t think Geneva is going back to normal after this.

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