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Orderly Protest

We were living in Bern, Switzerland where one day while walking through the city we became acutely aware of an enormous police presence. The officers lined the streets and filled the alleys. Done-up in their protective gear they resembled hockey goalies, outfitted with shields and batons. Parked every few blocks were enormous armored vehicles with water cannons and other protruding forms of weaponry that peaked the imagination…Lasers? Later that afternoon we met with some Swiss friends and mentioned the police presence. They were unaware, but suspected a planned protest, “Probably Goth’s” the woman said and rolled her eyes. “Goth’s” the man repeated, contemptuously shaking his head. “Boy they take these Goth’s seriously” I commented. As it turns out that what we were witnessing was a typical municipal response to all protests. It was explained that any organization was welcome to protest but that a permit was required. A window of time for the protest is provided and an assurance that if the protest goes beyond this window by even one second…on a Swiss watch, you will be beat to a pulp, shot with a high pressure water hose and perhaps a laser. After living in Switzerland for a while you come to understand that it wouldn’t matter if the protestors were Goth’s Housewives, or school children, the rules apply to all equally. Switzerland is the safest, cleanest, and most organized place we have ever lived. The response to protests helps explain why.


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