D.O.A. Protest Rally Concert in Switzerland Raided by Riot Police
Over 1,000 riot police in full gear descended on a Zurich, Switzerland crowd attending a May 1 concert by hardcore pioneers D.O.A. that was held as part of a rally to protest unfair treatment of workers, unacceptable work condition and poor pay. By the end, over 400 protesters were arrested .The rally, which coincided with similar demonstrations across the country to mark International Workers Day, was held in Kanzleistrasse 56, a public outdoor space about nine blocks in diameter.
Since the protesters didn't have a permit, police dispersed the crowd with water cannons. "There were a couple thousand people in the crowd," said D.O.A. guitarist and vocalist Joey 'S---head' Keithley. "Towards the end of our set we saw the helicopters above us. Police moved in with water cannons mounted on large police trucks that were about half the size of a fire truck. They were armed with riot shields, batons and guns that fired rubber bullets."
Keithley said police had no right to intervene with the peaceful protest, and insists that Associated Press reports that the police were using the water cannons in order to "disperse dozens of stone-throwing protesters as unions politicians protested against excessive Swiss banking bonuses" were completely misleading.
"The idea of why the promoters [didn't secure a permit for the protest] is because they say that it's still a public place," said Keithley. "It used to be a squat back in the '70s, but the police forced everyone out. The activists claim that the only thing that matters in Zurich is money, so it was a statement against the city and the way they run things"
After D.O.A. stopped playing, police allegedly surrounded the crowd and didn't let fans leave the area. "Anyone that tried to get out were tackled and dragged off. If they resisted, the cops would surround them, so I assume a lot of force was used."
The punk rocker added that once the police formed a ring around the crowd they tightened the circle and formed a barrier around the entire site.
"As they starting marching in towards us, our roadie grabbed us and we ran in the building behind us," said Keithley. "The doors were made to withstand force."
In Keithley's opinion, police in Zurich used intimidation and bullying tactics to frighten the crowd into halting the demonstration. "I have been in a lot of riots back in the day in L.A. that [were] really violent," he said. "But this was easily four times bigger than any riot than I even been in. And the police were way more organized."