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Police Tried To Stop People In Switzerland From Protesting Trump's Visit And It Didn't Go So Well

Here's how the Swiss welcomed President Trump this week.

Posted on January 26, 2018, at 8:50 a.m. ET

Every year, 2,500 of the world's top business leaders and politicians go to Davos, a sleepy Swiss skiing village, for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Thomas Stankiewicz / Getty Images

This year, President Trump went too.

Bloomberg / Getty Images

The WEF is sort of like if South by Southwest was organized by the same people who came up with the idea of the Hunger Games.

Only in #Davos you get a sign with “private car pick-up” direction alongside the “A day in the life of a refugee” e…

For instance, executives visited a street exhibit where they were able to strap on a VR helmet and see what it'd be like to go skiing.




There was also something called an Equality Lounge. OK, sure.


On Tuesday, Swiss police estimate, over a thousand people took to the streets in cities across the country to protest Trump's inclusion in the WEF.

Philippe Desmazes / AFP / Getty Images

The signs were decent.


Also, hardcore anarcho-anti-capitalists showed up with flares, shot fireworks at police, and spray-painted a bunch of store windows.


After Tuesday, Swiss police cracked down on protests pretty hard, especially ones happening in the city of Davos. Look at them hassling this poor polar bear.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

One group that tried to get around the Swiss police’s tight restrictions on protesting was the Young Socialists of Switzerland.

Young Socialists Of Switzerland

They got police clearance to set up a webcam at a bus stop in the center of Davos and planned to livestream a peaceful protest against both the WEF and Trump for 72 hours straight.

Young Socialists Of Switzerland

They started Tuesday night and successfully kept the stream going through the night. On Wednesday morning, however, police officers showed up and arrested three of them while they were livestreaming.

Young Socialists Of Switzerland

"The local police led us to a side and put us in vans. We were three people and they put us in three separate vans," 23-year-old Young Socialists member Julia Baumgartner told BuzzFeed News. "And when I asked why, we got no answer. The behavior of the policeman was very aggressive."

Members of the Young Socialists said they were held for an hour and a half and had all their details taken down by police before they were allowed to leave.

Young Socialists Of Switzerland

"They led us into the station and then there were lots of rooms but they led us to a balcony," Baumgartner said. "It was cold, and we had to stay there and they were standing there with their guns."

By Wednesday afternoon, they were able to get the stream back up and running. They used a combination of Facebook Live and Periscope to host the video. Young Socialists member Dimitri Rougy said the irony of using huge social media platforms to protest the WEF isn't lost on him.

"Today politics doesn't only happen in real life, it's online, and if we want to build resistance, we have to use some platforms who don't act in our best interest, who contradict or oppose our exact ideas," he said.

On Thursday, as Trump was touching down in Switzerland, activists were trying to figure out the best way to get their protests in front of him. A left-wing progressive NGO called Campax decided to head to a small town called Sargans.


Sargans is right on the border with Liechtenstein and it's about halfway between Zurich and Davos. Which means Trump's helicopter to Davos would have to pass right over it.

Google Maps

This is Andreas Freimüller, who's one the founding members of Campax. He invited BuzzFeed News to follow him and his team as they unveiled their big surprise for Trump.


The group had wanted to carry out a number of other demonstrations, but these had been rejected by police, who cited potential bad weather.

They planned to unfurl a giant 60-meter banner on a big mountain that Trump would have to fly over that read "TRUMP NOT WELCOME."


"We figured it would be a good thing to do something visible when Trump comes around," Freimüller said.

He said his team started scaling the mountain at 6 a.m. to get in place for Trump's flyover. The banner would hang 200 meters off the ground.

The police didn't show up, thankfully, but Campax did hit a bit of a snag. Trump's helicopter flew over earlier than expected. Freimüller's team was expecting it an hour later.


And the rock face was totally banner-less.


Nevertheless, they continued, and managed to get the whole thing unfurled.


As for whether Trump will see their message, Freimüller is optimistic. "I’m sure he’s going to see it on television. That’s how he sees the world anyway," he said.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.