Zeljko Blace on Fri, 6 Jun 2003 08:18:57 +0200 (CEST)

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[nettime-see] <nettime> geneva03 digest: police raid and bursting bubble (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 20:09:23 +0200
From: florian schneider <fls@kein.org>
To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
Subject: <nettime> geneva03 digest: police raid and bursting bubble

[here are two texts we were releasing monday and tuesday after the
police raid of the cultural center l'usine where the independent media
center and the geneva03 live stream video studio were hosted... we are
currently working on a more detailled evaluation of what has been going
on in the last days in geneva. many thanks to all who were with us -
on the streets, in the studio and in the stream! see you  /fls]

(1) Police Raid Targets Media Activists and l'Usine Cultural Centre
During the G8 summit.

(2) Geneva03: The Bubble Bursts


(1) Police Raid Targets Media Activists and l'Usine Cultural Centre
During the G8 summit.

Just before nine o'clock on Sunday June 1st, l'Usine -- a cultural
center and space for anti-g8 communications production in Geneva-- was
raided by police. For several days l'Usine had also been the home to
the Geneva03 live-stream project ( http://www.geneva03.org ) that has
provided continuous live coverage of the wide range of demonstrations,
discussions and points of view, which have constituted the opposition
to the G8 Summit.

The police made their first overt appearance at l'Usine in late
afternoon. Riots were taking place several hundred meters away. Police
closed off access on the streets around the bridge nearby. From about
7.30 onwards two groups of police occupied the streets leading to
Place des Volontaires from the direction of the bridge
'Coulouvroniere'. They remained there and people were able to pass by
them in small groups. At this time there were several hundred people
on the square talking and drinking. In an effort to maintain calm,
workers from the Usine brought down a large amount of food to the
square and people sat down and began to eat.

Shortly before nine o'clock several vans arrived at high speed on the
Rue de la Coulouvroniere outside of l'Usine and unleashed groups of
plain clothes police officers, indistinguishable from demonstrators
except for pink armbands marked 'police'. They moved immediately to
enter l'Usine from the main entrance on the Place des Volontaires.
Workers from l'Usine and others from the square attempted to block
their entry by forming a human chain before the door and appealed to
them to enter into dialogue, calling for calm and the avoidance of
violence. The leader of the police squadron paused briefly and turned
as if he had decided that they should leave, but almost immediately
returned with more men, who proceeded to attack the people protecting
the door. Armed with telescopic batons and concussion grenades, they
pushed and then beat those at the door, ignoring any attempts at
negotiation. As people scrambled to escape in the panic, riot police
attacked again, hitting people with long batons. One independent video
journalist was hit and injured during this attack and then arrested.

Police then entered the first floor of l'Usine and began to hunt
people in the building, smashing windows and doors of every type
throughout. Activists were subdued, handcuffed, or sent into hiding.
Police then set to work on the inner doors, cheering and shouting,
eventually breaking through into the  back sections of the building.
This section hosts the Geneva03 streaming project which continued to
cover the raid live including the moment of the police eruption into
the studio itself. Police battered at the door inside the Zoo section
of L'Usine for about fifteen to twenty minutes, while activists were
besieged in the media room. There, workers from Indymedia, Mute,
Candida, Everyone Is An Expert, Lora Radio and other groups struggled
to remain calm. The fact that police could be heard shouting and
smashing things, made this difficult. A significant number of those
present, especially from the Italian contingent, had also been present
in Genoa at the raid of the media centre there. The stream was taken
down temporarily as activists rushed to save equipment, but is now up
and running again at <www.geneva03.org>. Footage of the raid will be
shown throughout the next days.

The activists were soon split into two groups and searched. Their
personal effects were laid on the floor in front of them. These
effects were then examined by the same 'black bloc' style police, who
were by now peaceable and made all efforts to appear reasonable and
controlled. Passports were examined and taken. The police phoned a
source to check each passport. Eleven people were arrested in the
whole Usine complex -- for purposes of 'verifying their identity'--
all of whom were later released.

After much consideration, orders 'from high up' came and the media
activists were told that they could go about their work. All passports
were returned. Contrary to early statements by the police, no tapes
were taken. There is footage from inside the building from at least
four cameras.

Why l'Usine?

In order to justify the brutal and unjustified invasion of l'Usine,
politicians and police have alleged that building constitutes the
center for the groups blamed for the destruction which has occurred in
Geneva in recent days. The pretext for the raid thus was the supposed
presence of 'casseurs' inside the complex. In fact the only people
present inside were a handful of people in the public access internet
space, workers from l'Usine, independent video-journalist teams and
the participants in the Geneva03 project. This was basically conceded
by the police officer who led the raid; their original intention had
been to shut the building, but as their search produced no finds of
either people or material involved in the disturbances, the order for
closure was rescinded.

Throughout the week Geneva03 has operated with transparency to both
the Swiss authorities, demonstrators and the public in general. Its
live coverage that is accessible by anyone with an internet
connection. The police were clearly aware of the stream, since upon
entering the studio they immediately demanded it be turned off and
that microphones be removed.

There are significant parallels between the raid conducted at l'Usine
in Geneva and that against the Independent Media Center in Genoa in
July 2001. In Genoa, the same association of independent media with
so-called 'black block' factions was used to justify the destruction
of legal materials relating to complaints against the police and video
materials substantiating a series of abuses.  The Genoa and Geneva
events can be situated as moments in the ongoing attempt by the
police, press and other Establishment forces to associate independent
media with violent, illegal protest. The objective of these operations
is the criminalization of independent media able to give voice to
dissent and demand accountability over police conduct.  In the face of
widespread opposition to the policies and systems of rule advanced by
meetings such as the G8, such a tactic is increasingly necessary to
the authorities and its repetition signals that it now forms part of a
normalized modus operandi. Freedom of expression and information have
suffered once again the force of police repression.

And Afterwards

Ironically Geneva is to be the location of the first part of the World
Summit on the Information Society in December this year organised by
the United Nations. The summit co-host,  Tunisia, has already flagged
its engagement with the issues by arresting and imprisoning web
activist Zouhair Yahyaoui, editor of online journal TUNeZINE and
ardent critic of Tunisia's human rights record.  In April, Yahyaoui
began a second hunger strike in jail. With this vicious attack on
independent communications Geneva has the 'privilege' of joining the
list of countries in the world where expression is suppressed through
authoritarian methods.


(2) Geneva03: The Bubble Bursts

Locked away in their lakeside resort, the G8 must reckon once again
with their own abject failure. Met by demonstrations and the diffuse
violence produced by systemic crisis, they have no answers except
escalations of that violence. That is the same as no answer at all.
Their opponents, meanwhile, have no programme but to celebrate the
G8's eclipse.

Despite their outward performance of control, socio-economic
management and domination, the g8 meeting takes place at a time when
their structures are in decay, their power in crisis. They have
abandoned the cities for their meetings, confronted by domestic and
international protests which meet them even im their elite hideaways.
Evian is a water town, and here again the bubble has burst.

The G8 meeting has failed even on their own terms, illustrating their
impotency before the problems on their own agenda. Now they can only
complain that they are surrounded by ´enemies´, ´threats´, which in
the end they can no longer even identify. This is globalization´s new
paradigm: everybody is an enemy.

In staged physical confrontations they may have superiority in
weaponry, logistics, command and control, deploying resources or
exploiting their shortage. Our pantomime assaults on their rituals
will never result in anything but inflated media reports about massive
damage. They can never be credible, only spectacular. The price of
broken windows can easily be afforded; this is not the crisis. The
crisis is an economy that has already bled workers dry, but now must
find means bleed them anew. The crisis is a social world where human
activity has been evacuated of meaning and can now practice only
ritual. This system knows only how to enact and reenact its own tragic

Meanwhile the movement has the tools to create its own stories, to
make its own stages, to make new meanings and relations. But this is a
potential mostly unrealized: blockades and demonstrations,
protest-as-usual, the tired manipulations by opportunistic politicians
- this is the old world behind us. The opposition movement may have
assembled the arena, the props, and set the roles but is now trapped
in a show that has gone on too long.

The loss of content on the side of the protest mirrors the system´s
failure to fulfill its former promise to provide ´the good life´. Once
again we need new and creative forms, that return agency, the capacity
to act meaningfully on our world, transforming it. The social movement
must reject pop politics without meaning that fills the chatter of the
newspapers, television and independent media such as Indymedia, but
instead reach new ideas, recompose our forces and capacities,
knowledges and practices.

We must insist on making our own way outside of the logic of reaction.
If we accept a constant state of emergency then we can never have real
control over our actions. The ´emergency´ imposes its theatrical
imperatives, keeps us in a script written by others, inhibits our
capacities. Instead we must exercise the agency to bring us beyond our
current paralysis, and to assume our ultimate autonomy.

GENEVA 03 autonomous media collective

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