Aubonne is a district of Switzerland, in the canton of Vaud. However it is also the name of a small bridge on the highway between Lausanne and the Swiss capital, Geneva. During the 29th G8 summit held in Évian-les-Bains, France in June 2003, which is just over the border on June 1 a group of protesters proceeded to string a rope across the two-lane both directions bridge in order to stop delegates from reaching the meeting. Moreover on one end of the rope Briton Martin Shaw hung and on the other German Gesine Wenzel. Of course this was primarily meant symbolicaly and not as a physical barrier. The protesters stretched two banners alongside the rope that read in English "Stop here or you will kill two people" and "Do not shoot". Protests during G8 summits are not uncommon to say the least although they have varied in intensity. Most known probably being the extreme riots during the 27th summit held in Genova, Italy in 2001. During those riots one man, Carlo Guiliani was shot dead in self-defence by a police officer under attack. How ever the Italian police used very brutal methods of which the officers responsible for have not stood trial to yet.
The events that unfolded were very farcical, ironic or tragic, depending on your perspective.
Traffic was halted with people cursing the small group of protestors assembled and honking their car horns. The police quickly arrive, half a dozen or so and before you know it one of them reaches for his pocket knife and cuts the rope.
Poor Martin fell 23 meters down into a small stream and broke quite a few bones, he is almost completely rehabilitated today. Gesine Wenzel was saved by the protesters on the bridge who managed to grab hold of the end of the rope and pull her back up to safety.
In 2004 a Swiss court found the protesters guilty of obstructing traffic and fined them.
Shaw and Wenzel sued the policemen involved and in February 2006 a Swiss court acquitted the policemen having come to the conclusion that they did not realise that there were two people hanging on the rope. An appeal is being prepared.
They knowingly risked their lives for a cause and when push came to shove they paid the price..
http://www.aubonnebridge.net/ - video recording of the incident and a 66 page dossier
Just for the record: having watched the video and read a bit here and there about this incident I must state that my sympathies lie with the victims. My perspective is that this is all three a tragedy, an irony and a farce. I must stress that I am not in any way mocking the people involved. Just making my casual observations.