Report from Independent Media Centre http://france.indymedia.org
Wednesday 6 December, the day before the opening of the European Summit at Nice, 70,000 people gathered for a demonstration in this French city. The majority of the demonstrators were present under the banner of the European Confederation of Unions (ECU ou CES, Confédération européenne des syndicats). As well as the union members, there were associations of the unemployed, immigrants, environmental activists, groups of communists and anarchists, autonomous groups, Kurdish and Turkish activists, women's collectives, Basque and Corsican activists, etc. There were initially planned to be two different demonstrations: the unions on one side and the "anti-globalisation-ists", unemployed people's associations, ATTAC, progressive and left-wing parties, etc. on the other. It finally turned out that the joined together at the last moment, even if their demands were not the same. In fact, the ECU/CES supports the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights but criticises its weakness, while the Collective for a Counter-Summit (grouping together numerous associations) rejects the Charter for Fundamental Rights.
The path through the streets authorised, by the Mayor of Nice, ex-member of the National Front (fascist party) for the demonstration was not sufficiently long. This is why the unionists were already folding up their banners with the feeling of a job well done when the end of the procession was barely beginning the march.
This demonstration was carried out calmly, and most of the unionists, as was planned, returned to their countries (by plane) after the march.
The night of 6 December, 2000 people gathered in the Leyrit Gymnasium in order to participate in a meeting. Susan George spoke in order to announce the present vapidity and decadence of international institutions and that changes would not come from above. François Dufour spoke in the name of the Confédération Paysanne (Farmers' Coalition). He explained, among other things, why the now world famous José Bové was not present. In fact, José Bové was intercepted on Wednesday in Paris by security forces and violently slammed to the ground, when he tried to enter the site of the prestigious Automobile-lub, place de la Concorde, where an agricultural conference on the WTO with Mike Moore, head of the WTO, was being held.
Just as in Prague, hundreds of Italians mobilised to participate in the demonstrations in Nice. As in Prague, they took the "Global Action Express" train for the journey. As in Prague, the 1500 Italians of Ya Basta, Tuti Bianchi, Rifondazione Communista, were blocked at the border. Despite the protests of the Italian authorities, the French authorities protected by rows of hundreds of riot police (CRS) refused to let the Italians through.
Unperturbed, some attempted the transit by foot.
This is how the activists were blocked at the Italian border town of Vintimille, where they arrived around 0:30am. Since the railway station was circled by the carabinieris (Italian police), the Italian activists slept in the train. The even squatted another train in order to have a bit more room. The following day, after some discussion, the demonstrators left the station in procession in order to visit the French Consulate. The Italian police charged immediately, and fairly fierce combats took place.
The carabinieris fired tear gas . Several people had to be transported to hospital. After the confrontations and after having reached the Consulate, the Italians decided to return to the station. So, they were able to demonstrate in this border town. They discussed with the locals and went their way back home. At Gênes ), Rifondazzione Communista launched an appeal to demonstrate and demanded the sacking of the Prefect (Governor) responsible for the police violence at Vintimille.
In response to the blocking of the train at Vintimille, at Nice, at the end of the big demonstration and while the counter-summit was underway, thousands of demonstrators went to and occupied the Nice railway station and demanded the opening of the border for the Italian activists.
The riot police (CRS) reacted by attacking the demonstrators and throwing them out of the station. A few scufflings then took place in the centre of the city of Nice.
Also in response to the blocking of the Italians, many Spanish and French went to the border in order to support the comrades in arms.
During the night of 6 to 7 December, the cops patrolled in order to systematically stop and check identity papers of any group of more than three people.
Thursday 7 December, at dawn, thousands of demonstrators converged towards the Acropolis (the place where the official summit is being held) in order to block access. Around 5000 to 6000 people formed different bunches in order to hassle the participants of the Summit and the numerous cops protecting them.
The arrival of the heads of State at the Acropolis was not really perturbed. In contrast, in the streets, the calm of the previous day was replaced by quite violent confrontations with security forces. Traffic was blocked in numerous parts of the city. The demonstrators were charged at and also charged themselves against the very widespread police barricades which protected the security boundary of the Summit. A cloud of tear gas formed above Nice to such an extent that the air-conditioning system of the Acropolis sucked it in and (it seems) made president Chirac sneeze.
There were combats, banks burnt, windows smashed. A few arrests, too. The demonstrators did not attain their target. Which was too well guarded by the cops who went even to the lengths of door-to-door visists in the "red zone" in order to track down locals one by one.
The 2000 European delegates were, in effect, well protected. As well as the presence of the various police forces which arrived from all over France (and military forces too), the were also interception teams ready to intervene in the sea as well as from the air in case there was any breakthrough into the security zone.
This morning, we were able to observe an action by about forty BAC police (cops of the Anti-Criminal Brigade) who entered into action in the conflict zone in the centre of Nice. They were armed, among other things, with "flashballs", rubber bullet pistols, and chased small groups of isolated demonstrators.
After the events of this morning, many people retreated to the Leyrit hall, centre of the Counter-Summit. Later, the gymnasium was evacuated by those 2000 people with the kind help of the police who fired tear gas and water cannon into the room.
This morning too, the Assembly of NGO's and European associations, named the "Crossroads of Civil Society", was held in Nice in order to discuss possibilities of working towards a true European Constitution which would not rest merely a declaration of principles. This meeting adopted a motion presented by Raffaele Salinari which denounces the behaviour of the French authorities with respect to the Italian activists' train as "anti-European".
This afternoon, several anti-fascists confronted the security forces of the neonazi party of Le Pen (National Front) who had organised a gathering with the approval of the City Council. The cops were no longer there and one anti-fascists was seriously injured.
There was also a demonstration of European federalists. In particular, a group of young federalists organised a sitting which was violently repressed by the riot police (CRS), just a quarter of an hour after the adoption by the European heads of State of the famous Charter of Fundamental Rights, charter against which the demonstrations of the last two days were organised.
Also this afternoon, the autonomous activists undertook "smelly ball" actions (banks, supermarkets, Buffalo Grill), to "show to people a concrete way in which things stink in the world". The targets had to be evacuated.
In the evening, some demonstrators were (already) about to go home, trying to cross the police filters at the Nice train station. Others organised a general assembly in the Leyrit Hall, recovered by other demonstrators (it seems) after the evacuation this afternoon.
In the context of the movement to go to the Summit of the EU at Nice, several collectives were created in France in order to go there by free train travel. In several French cities (Paris, Nancy,Dijon, Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Toulouse...) people thus gathered together in order to travel together. In response, the public authorities and politicians reacted by policing actions: railway lines being occupied and police evacuations, negotiations for low fares, body searches, police charging, injuries and arrests.
Following the big lodging problems for the demonstrators, squats were opened in Nice. In contrast, a squat was evacuated by the cops. In the night of 6 to 7 December, demonstrators were lodged in the Leyrit Hall planned for the debates.
Around sixty (60) arrests were noted (thirty according to Belgian public radio). There were injuries both to demonstrators and to police forces.
Some "anti-globalisation" activists got together again at the border with the principality of Monaco to protest against that money laundering paradise.
In principle, a solidarity action should already have taken place in Ireland and Italy.
In Brussels, 200 people gathered the 6 December to support the Nice demonstrators.