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Anti-G8 protest in Rostock, Germany, Saturday June 2, 2007
A description of today's massive anti-G8 protest in Rostock, Germany
Today in the German City of Rostock tens of thousands of protesters marched through the city in an opening show of opposition to next weeks Group of 8 (G8) meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany. The march had two starting points at opposite sides of the city. Both marches met at the central harbor for a closing rally and concert. Activists from many backgrounds came out for the march. Carrying banners, puppets and signs protesters called attention to the many reasons to oppose the the G8. This year climate change and war took center stage among the NGO set. A large and militant block of anarchists and anti-fascists also marched. With banners and flags flying they drew attention to the larger problem of capitalism and empire. It is no use to ask the G8 to do anything was the major sentiment. It just legitimizes an illegitimate authority.
At the city harbor a large concert was scheduled with acts from around the world. For months the German police have been saying they will be using all forces available to squash what they think to be violent protesters. Shortly after the block arrived at the harbor the police tried to split the march and isolate the anarchists. The police began shoving protesters and running into the crowd. Rocks and bottles were thrown at the police as the crowd quickly backed away. The whole rear half of the march was held up for over an hour as the police continued to advance on the crowd trying to break up the block. Several times protesters, with hands raised in the air as if to say “we are not armed” ran at police chanting “go away!”. Each time the police had to retreat the crowd would beak into applause. Many reports of injuries were made. Some protesters were carried away with bloodied heads from being hit by the police and flying rocks. Several ambulances were seen taking injured protesters away.
The whole while the concert went on.
For a time things remained calm but then the police re-entered the area this time with water cannons. Riot police charged the crowd and using tear gas and the water cannon pushed people towards the stage. Concert organizers immediately stopped the show and demanded that the police leave the area. The police agreed and began to retreat. But not for long. They came back with more water and tear gas. In what are called snatch squads, German police began to single protesters out for arrest. Many people began to be pulled out of the crowd, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. With air still thick with tear gas the concert struggled to restart as the crowd, many of whom were elderly or with children tried to escape the toxic gas. Protesters on the streets surrounding the harbor built barricades of trash and set them on fire to keep back the police. Water cannons were moved in to extinguish the flames from the barricades and several burning cars.
Mainstream media is calling it a riot and not mentioning the police actions to try and violently split the march.
For the past week protesters have been gathering at various camps in the areas surrounding Rostock and Heiligendamm. Three camps, one in Rostock, one in Reddelich and another in Wichmannsdorf are hosting 3-5,00 protesters each. Each camp is self organized with campers taking on the collective responsibility for food, cleaning, security and other daily takes. Each night in large nightly meetings held in huge circus tents. campers gather to report on the day and to gather volunteers for the many tasks. This is also where decisions are made about important questions regarding safety and security. Each camp is divided into barrios. The barrios are self organized by groups, countries, regions, and political background. Some barrios are simply made up of individuals.
Today´s action was the fist big day in a week of actions against the G8. Later in the week on June 6th as the summit opens protesters with descend on the roads leading to the posh resort hosting the meetings to build blockades. Organizers are planning on holding the blockades for multiple days. The goal is not to keep the leaders of the worlds 8 most powerful countries from having their meetings but to keep the support (food, media, etc) out. Each G8 meeting requires a great deal of logistical work and protesters plan to work on disrupting the smooth flow of support for the G8.
An English language news ticker with on the ground reports from the protesters is available here:
Information on the blockades can be found here:
General information on the protests can be found here:
Pictures from today´s protests are available on many mainstream news wires:
Video from CNN (take it with a grain of salt. You can´t trust the mainstream press, but has good images)