The Age: "Nice lays on police to greet protesters"

Nice lays on police to greet protesters

Friday 8 December 2000

The Mayor of Nice, Jacques Peyrat, was not taking any chances yesterday: between the gendarmes, the riot police, anti-terrorist units and undercover intelligence, he had 6000 officers on hand.

That was roughly one police officer for every 10 demonstrators parading through the rain-drenched streets of the Riviera resort demanding such things as an end to genetically modified crops, more support for small farmers and greater restrictions on world trade.

Most of those demonstrating before the European Union heads of state begin their summit to agree on the reforms needed to enable the EU to expand were trade unionists calling for greater social rights and an improved charter of fundamental rights.

Under a sea of red banners, French, Italian and Spanish trade unionists rubbed shoulders with those from Poland, Slovenia and Luxembourg. Some Dutchmen dressed as Father Christmas.

Anti-globalisers organised a separate but equally jovial procession, in disagreement with the trade unionists on the status of the charter. "Our march is not in competition with theirs," said Michel Rousseau, an anti-unemployment activist. "We do not want the charter to be enforced by law, because it's a lousy charter."

Dancing the tango and singing in the rain, the protesters gathered in the city centre before their respective marches.

The trade unionists say that the charter, much watered down since it first appeared, is still a useful starting point, but must be enforced by law. Thanks largely to British opposition, it may become a non-binding declaration.

Up to 40,000 protesters from about 90 groups in 25 countries - French farmers, Italian Zapatistas, British socialists, Turkish Workers Against Globalisation and Portuguese communists - are expected today.

Banners unfurled at Nice station, where protesters arrived in a chartered train, included "All rights for everyone", "Say No to mad cows and GM crops", "Down with social dumping", "End tax havens now" and "Capitalism kills".


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