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G20 Protesters take to French Riviera

Hugues Jeanneaud

Hundreds of anti-capitalists have poured into the French city of Nice for a march to protest corporate greed ahead of the Group of 20 summit.

Hundreds of anti-capitalists poured into the French city of Nice on Tuesday for a march to protest corporate greed ahead of the Group of 20 summit in nearby Cannes—echoing protests worldwide.

Protesters from Germany, Spain and Italy have been arriving since Monday at the “Old Abattoir” cultural centre where a “People’s Summit” is to be held in parallel to the summit of G20 leaders on Thursday and Friday.

“We refuse to give the powerful the right to impose their solutions on crises that they created. Alternative paths exist,” said pamphlets distributed by the organisers of the protest march on the Mediterranean city’s outskirts.

Nice police said they had arrested three Spanish men on the city’s renowned Promenade des Anglais seafront in possession of “bolts, mountaineering axes, balaclavas and gas masks” ahead of the march.

Interior ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandet said the men had t-shirts and badges with “Black Cross” written on them, which he said meant they might be part of the militant Black Bloc protest movement.

Cannes itself is to be locked down during the summit, with protesters kept a safe distance away from the world leaders—around 30km down the Mediterranean coast—in Nice.

Groups including environmental advocates Greenpeace, Attac, the Human Rights League and anti-racism organisations are organising the march that is to begin around 14:00 GMT, along with other environmental and left-wing groups.

Around 2 500 extra police have been drafted in to deal with the protest that organisers hope will draw 10 000 people.

But anyone thought to be associated with Black Bloc protests faces arrest if police find them anywhere in the region.

Patrols
Around 15 vehicles belonging to the CRS riot police were parked in front of Nice train station with groups of riot police patrolling the station, stopping passengers to search them and check their identity.

Two backpacker protesters, from Belgium and France, arrived on a train from Paris and told Agence France-Presse they “came to Nice to ask for just a little more humanity [and for] the financial system to be put at the people’s service.”

Besides the police presence, organisers will have one person out for every 100 demonstrators, or around 100 in total.

Paris obtained authorisation from Brussels to reintroduce customs and immigration checks on the Italian border to prevent troublemakers gaining entry after around 100 people were injured in violent protests in Rome on October 15.

Most shops were closed on Tuesday as it was a bank holiday in France for the Catholic feast of All Saints.

One of the protest’s organisers, Franck Gaye, said ahead of the march that there would be no confrontation in Nice as anarchist movements “have called on supporters to go everywhere in France because there won’t be security forces elsewhere.”

On Thursday, some protesters will head to the principality of Monaco to “celebrate” the end of tax havens that was announced at the 2009 G20 in London.

Anti-capitalism protests have sprung up in more than 80 countries in recent weeks, including a protest camp in the heart of London’s City financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States and the Indignants protesters in Spain.

The protests are against what demonstrators consider an irresponsible financial system and for economic equality.

The leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economic powerhouses, which between them generate around 85% of global output, are hoping to agree measures to head off the threat of global recession during their Cannes summit.—Sapa-AFP

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