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Davos strengthens security as protesters march toward the rally

DAVOS, Switzerland – Hundreds of disgruntled protesters against the elite World Economic Forum march through alpine snow towards its annual rally in Davos, while officials on Monday detailed additional security measures such as vehicle checks and webcam shutdowns with US President Donald Trump and other notables. to arrive.

Zurich regional police said about 130 participants “protected under international law” – including royalties, presidents and prime ministers – are expected to pass through the Davos rally from Tuesday to Friday. In all, nearly 3,000 leaders from civil society, business, politics and elsewhere from 118 countries are expected as the forum marks its 50th year.

Protesters with the “Strike-WEF” collective, which began marching against Davos on Sunday, have taken issue with one security measure: an order from regional police that no more than 300 people can take part in a planned protest near City Hall. Authorities insist the space is too small to accommodate more people. They call such boundaries anti-democratic.

“When they can accommodate 3,000 people – the majority of whom are the richest people on the planet – but for only 300 among the 99% of us others, it’s a joke,” said Payal Parekh, a spokeswoman for the collective. Members of the group and its supporters – some dressed in get-ups like Ronald McDonald’s clothes – marched towards Davos but have been barred from the main roads to get there.

“There are ways to get to Davos,” she said. “We are creative and flexible.”

Rosalina Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Young Socialists who help organize the demonstration in Davos, welcomed the idea of ​​getting leaders to meet, but said they had not managed to help the world in the last half century.

“They say they want to make the world a better place, but for 50 years they have done nothing,” she said. Forum organizers have pointed to dozens of initiatives such as planting trees, recruiting advocacy companies and bringing together thousands of promising young people to help their communities in dozens of countries around the world.

The Swiss national authorities restricted airspace and have allowed up to 5,000 soldiers to participate in increased security. Authorities and Forum organizers have set aside a budget of $ 9 million for additional security measures during the event.

Zurich authorities increased security checks on people and vehicles and advised Zurich airport guests to use public transportation for Trump’s expected arrival on Tuesday.

Jamey Keaten, Associated Press

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