Following protests and riots in the US in response to the death of George Floyd, an estimated 2,000 people took to the streets of Lausanne over the weekend to protest, according to 20 Minutes.
George Floyd died after a police officer in the US city of Minneapolis dug his knee into Floyd’s neck and kept it there for over eight minutes. The police officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Protestors in Lausanne marched through the centre of the city converging on the palace of justice waving signs emblazoned with slogans such as “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter”.
The protest was unauthorised. In Switzerland protests need to be formally announced to the authorities in advance. In addition, Switzerland continues to have a ban on gatherings of more than 300 people to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, Lausanne’s police decided not to intervene in the unauthorised gathering. They said intervening would have been counter productive. A police spokesperson also said they plan to file a complaint against those involved in vandalising vehicles and the police station with spray paint.
There were similar protests in Lausanne in 2018 when Mike Ben Peter, a 40 year old Nigerian man died of a heart attack the day after a physical encounter with Lausanne police. Peter was restrained by a number of police officers at Lausanne train station after being suspected of drug dealing, according to RTS. He was later rushed to the CHUV hospital unconscious, according to the newspaper Le Temps.
The police found cocaine pellets in Peter’s mouth leading some to think he might have died of a cocaine overdose. However, an autopsy revealed no cocaine in his blood. Although he did test positive for the drug PCP, which can cause irregular heart beat. A contentious legal case brought against the municipal police remains open.
Over the weekend, other protests inspired by demonstrations around the world in response to the death of George Floyd, occurred in Neuchâtel, Basel, Bern and Zurich, according to various newspapers.