On the day of the largely symbolic demonstration in Geneva, four York students were involved in the attempt to directly challenge the G8. 2000 people took to the streets of the nearby city of Lausanne in order to effect a blockade that would disrupt the summit.
We were an assorted mixture of activists united in the understanding that the capitalist system serves only the powerful. For this reason we favoured the abolition of the capitalist system and the vastly unequal power relationships it reproduces. They – the police – were employed by the powerful – the G8 – to maintain their power.
The police fulfilled their role in impressive fashion. From the outset, they directed our movements, channelling us into numerous traps. Our attempts to break into the ‘Red Zone’, from which protestors were banned, were met with multiple rounds of terrifying, debilitating tear-gas as well as rubber bullets and concussion grenades.
We eventually ended our forced journey at the Bourdonette activist camp in the Lausanne suburbs. Our relief at finding friendly soil was quickly turned to terror as the campsite became a police internment zone. Police surrounded the camp and demanded to see the ID of everyone there. ‘Either you come to us nicely, or we come nicely to you’, declared the officer in charge, promising that we would be taken to a ‘neutral zone’ to have our documents ‘checked’. We saw this as a smokescreen for compiling a blacklist of all demonstrators involved in the protest so as to restrict our future movement.
What followed was an epic feat of collective resistance lasting seven hours. We linked arms and sat on the floor as they took us one by one. We fought them with our chants, songs and passive resistance, slowly wearing them down. Eventually, with another 2000 locals approaching the camp to support us the police were forced to vacate the camp, leaving some 400 protestors jubilant, and free.