Steve Cisler on 31 Jan 2001 06:55:51 -0000

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<nettime> Davos as armed camp

Dan Gillmor is a very good tech. journalist here in San Jose.  He does a web
log from which he draws material for his San Jose Mercury columns.  From
Saturday: 1/27

Police Village

Last year, protesters at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum
here got a bit violent, breaking windows in a local McDonald's and
throwing punches at several policemen. This year, the police and army
tried to keep them entirely out of the Davos village proper.

The authorities didn't entirely succeed, and they've used force (Reuters)
in putting down even moderate demonstrations today.

To what end? The police presence has become such an overwhelming presence
here that it's almost overshadowed the events inside the World Congress
Centre, site of the meeting's primary events.

Even some of the local hotels are armed camps. The Seehof, near the
railway station, is favored by some political leaders who come here each
year. Getting into the place is almost as rigorous as at the World
Congress Centre itself. You have to go through metal detectors while
cold-eyed security forces eye your badge. There are three different
checkpoints on the way through.

The Swiss have been taking security to paranoid extremes. They even
blocked a speaker (Newsweek) who was coming in by train and was scheduled
to speak at a counter-gathering nearby the Congress Centre.

The desire of authorities to keep people safe is more than understandable,
given the stature of some of the people here. But I wonder if the Swiss
and the Forum understand how much this police-state stuff is fueling the

Some of the people who are part of the Davos meeting -- that is, they were
specifically invited to be here -- are expressing deep unhappiness about
what's going on, and they've issued a press release. I have only a paper
copy and don't know if it's online anywhere. So here's a key quote from
the release, which is signed by Jeremy Rifkin and Esther Dyson among

"Unfortunately, Davos has become a fortress with ominous consequences for
the future of global dialogue," it says. I hope the corporate and
political leaders here are listening.

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