Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Demonstrations Descend on G20 Summit In France

Protesters descend on G20

By Ben Rooney
November 1, 2011: 10:18 PM ET

Protesters in Nice railed against economic inequality and the failure of governments to stand up to big banks.

NICE, France (CNNMoney) -- Thousands of protesters took to the streets Tuesday in this sleepy city on the French Riviera to send a message to the world's most powerful leaders.

"The people come first, not finances" was one of the main slogans chanted as an estimated 10,000 protesters marched through Nice, located near Cannes, where the Group of 20 heads of state will meet Thursday and Friday.

The largely peaceful march took place under the watchful eyes of hundreds of police officers wearing full riot gear and toting tear gas guns.

The G20 has drawn violent protests in the past and is a favorite target of anarchist groups.

On Tuesday, the marchers promoted a variety of left wing and anti-capitalist causes. But the over-arching theme centered on economic inequality and the failure of governments to stand up to powerful banks.

G20 summit to test EU debt deal

While the G20 protesters had much in common with the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread across the United States, domestic politics were also a large part of Tuesday's "manifestation."

In particular, protesters railed against European G20 nations over recent cuts in public services that many governments have made to cope with unsustainable levels of debt.

"This global government has no democratic legitimacy and exists solely to impose on the people of the world to pay for an economic and financial crisis they are not responsible for" read a flyer handed out by a group called Les Alternatifs.

There was a large contingent of protesters dressed as Robin Hood, who called on the G20 to impose a new tax on financial transactions, such as stock trades.

The goal, supporters say, is to force banks and investors to contribute more to the economy and society. Overall, the mood was festive and sufficiently raucous.

But the atmosphere was punctuated with tense moments when squads of riot police would randomly file through the crowd and take up positions on the sidelines.

First Published: November 1, 2011: 7:36 PM ET

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