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Report from anti-G8 Protest at Gleneagles, Scotland
report from the streets of Scotland
So today was the day of the protest at Gleneagles, where the G8 is meeting over the next 2 days. Zak bought our bus tickets last night (apparently a group called G8 Alternative (s) had organized the buses). We were very lucky to have had the foresight to buy the tickets. Zak got out there at 9:30am, and one bus was leaving already- even though they were scheduled to leave at 10. When I got there at 10, he grabbed my hand and started walking fast, explaining as we went. Only people who had tickets were being let onto the buses, and there was a line of hundreds of people down the sidewalk.
There was a lot of discussion between organizers and the police, because the police tried to tell us that we couldn't go to Stirling (where people were camped) or to Gleneagles for our safety. Stirling was apparently raided starting last night and from what the cops said, it was also awful this morning. The cops told us that the march had been cancelled, to which we replied, bullshit! We were determined to leave. The cops tried to stop a bus from leaving, but it got out. Our bus turned on its engine and the people from the sidewalk streamed into the street for an angry confrontation with the cops. The police backed down and we were able to go, but it did not look like any other buses were going to be able to leave. Apparently a violent confrontation ensued and some people were beaten and shot at with something.
The ride to Gleneagles was very tense. There were several police vehicles at every interchange. Once when the buses stopped to let people out to go to the bathroom, police suddenly appeared from somewhere in the woods, and we feared that we would not be allowed to go. We got through, but when we got close to Gleneagles, we discovered a traffic jam, where the police tried to tell us to turn back. We lost a videographer from our bus there- apparently he had decided to get off the bus (I saw him later and he seemed fine). We could see a helicopter over Gleneagles, and we could see the fence, so we felt that we should be able to get off and start the protest!! The bus driver took us on a really long, circuitous route. One man on the bus started to accuse the bus driver and the organizers of being in cahoots with the police!! We went really far from Gleneagles, and eventually the driver let us out. We had to walk about a mile and a half to where we were supposed to be. I have to look up the name of the town that we were walking through- it was a small town that did show signs of having a tourist industry, but they had certainly never seen the likes of 5000 anti-globalization and anti-war protesters on their streets!
We came across an intersection where there were thousands of people with signs pouring into the street. I later figured out that this was the park where the march had begun! We marched and marched. Zak and I got separated when I ran after a contingent to get a photo or some audio or something. I had taken a lot of audio on the bus, and I took some of chants and stuff along the march. We'll see how it came out- I am still very new to the world of audio.
Eventually we got to a point where the march monitors (stewards) were trying to herd us all to the right, but if we went straight we would walk right into the fence that was protecting Gleneagles and the G8. In the spirit of direct action, many of us stood in front of the fence. We hoped that enough people would come together so that we could attempt to pull down the fence- and I intended to get photos of it! Well, we were there forever, and march monitors kept trying to get us to move on to the right. This was an aspect of very poor planning on their part-- of course people would want to get as close to the fence as possible- getting through the fence was our only hope of getting our messages heard! At one point I saw that the march was only two people wide getting through that area.
So some people threw things over the fence, some people shook the fence and pushed it down, and mostly I feared that I was going to be trampled if things got crazy. When Zak found me and told me that the Greek contingent wasn't too far away, and someone else told me that there was stuff going on further down to the right, I decided to go down there. I was glad to do that for my safety, but on the other hand, this area where I had been was a road into Gleneagles, and in the area further down, people had to walk through a field to get to the real fence.
Well, down there on the other end, various people worked on the fence and eventually got it smooshed down so people could walk or hop over it. Eventually people started streaming through- various protesters, socialists, photographers, the Infernal Noise Brigade, the clown bloc (not sure what their name was) and more. I didn't go in in large part because I didn't have boots. Also, I wanted to get back here to the IMC in Edinburgh today.
The police numbers started increasing very rapidly- they were brought in by van, helicopter, and horse. A military helicopter (the kind with propellers in the front and the back) kept flying over us to pick up police from nearby locations and bring them to the other side of the fence. I kept thinking about how US military helicopters fall out of the sky all the time in the US and Iraq. I was so shocked when I saw how many people came out of the helicopter the first time! Zak pointed out that the Chechens have shot down helicopters that have held something like 110 people.
We could see that confrontations and meetings were happening in different areas of the field- there were even some police on our side of the fence. From time to time we would hear drums or the INB. People kept streaming in, and some out, but ultimately it did not seem like a battle that our people could win. It was too dark and cloudy to take very good pictures anymore, so we started to walk away as hundreds more cops were brought in. That was very depressing. We walked back to the park and were told that we should listen to the main stage for instructions about buses. We ate some bread, went to the bathroom, and watched the Rinky Dink bicycle powered and pulled sound system, which kicked East Bay sound systems' asses. (I had heard about the RD from a David Rovics song).
We walked around for an hour, trying to find the bus. It wasn't in teh line with all the other buses, so we assumed we had to walk back to where we had been dropped off. I guess we missed the driver by a few minutes. :/ I was so mad! We eventually begged some Englishpeople for a ride and they brought us to some buses that looked like ours, and had space for more passengers. We rode back to Edinburgh very uneventfully, although we did see a lot of police, and we even saw some dignitaries pass us as they headed towards Gleneagles.
I didn't have time to edit my photos or audio tonight- hopefully tomorrow.