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Anti-G8, June 4: The Right to Movement
Photos and article about the much harassed march in Rostock, Germany today for the "Right to Movement: No Borders, No Nation, Stop Deportation!" Predictably the police did their best to prevent the movement of the march, but finally, after several blockages, relented and allowed the march to reach the harbor.
Today’s demonstration focused on migration issues under the banner “The Right to Movement.” The contrast to yesterday's demo was immediate: we couldn`t reach the demo by train because the trains were re-routed; heavy police presence, which included countless paddy wagons and numerous water cannons, greeted us on our walk to the demo's beginning. And then, the provocation escalated. The police delayed the demo for hours, during which time they continuously changed the conditions under which the march could proceed.
All the while, West African hip-hop pulsated from one of the many sound trucks. Pretexts for not letting the demonstration proceed included, initially, that there were five hundred violent demonstrators who had integrated themselves into the demonstration without having passed through police controls. In response, organizers declared their solidarity with all demonstrators and asked the police to stop their provocations.
Nearby, a gaggle of colorfully decorated clowns spoofed the stiff, heavily militarized rows of German police, behind which sat two water cannons and a seemingly endless line of police vehicles. Clowning in Germany has been met with a new wave repression. Yesterday, during the demonstration for food sovereignty, police surrounded a group of clowns in a McDonald's and forced them to pay a 250 Euro fine in order to free themselves from their deep-fried predicament. The crime? Covering their faces, which is banned in Germany. Today, as the police continued to change conditions under which the march could proceed, they declared that protestors could not wear a combination of face covering, sunglasses and hoodies. Furthermore, axes were verboten.
As we continued to wait, demonstrators broke the monotony by playing leap frog, and immigrant speakers kept us focused on the days themes by describing the hardships that they face. One speaker, an Iraqi asylum seeker, talked about his situation. Asylum seekers are frequently housed in camps and only allowed to leave them infrequently and with permission. They also have to renew their asylum application every 1-3 months. And immigrants face frequent racist attacks, particularly in former East Germany. For example, in the 1992 Lichtenhagen Pogrom, a building housing immigrants was fire-bombed, while locals cheered on and the police arrested anti-fascist demonstrators, who sought to protect the immigrants inside.
After 3 1-2 hours of patiently waiting and dancing, the march finally took off: a bumping mixture of samba and hip-hop provided the soundtrack to our colorful combination of salsa dancers and invigorated demonstrators eager to tear down borders.
After an hour and nearing the center of Rostock, the demo was stopped again. This time, the excuse was that the permit filed for the demonstration anticipated 2000 demonstrators. In an odd reversal of the numbers game about counting demonstrators, the police argued that 10,000 were in attendance, but organizers argued the number of demonstrators was around 5,000 and therefore should be let through. New water cannons and paddy wagons arrived and stationed themselves in the middle of the street, blocking demonstrators from proceeding. This latest delay once again illustrated the constant provocation under which the opening days of the anti-G8 protests have occurred.
Eventually, the march – as planned albeit five hours late – reached the harbor, where an enormous band stage is set up and international line up of bands play every afternoon and evening for free. At the end of the day, the irony that took place during a demonstration dedicated to migration and the right to movement is obvious: there is no freedom of movement, whether in the streets of Rostock during the G8 summit or under the rules of neoliberal paradise.
Many chants and much music, including a vibrant samba band again, as well as several live sound stages on trucks. Two chants: "We are here. We will Fight. Freedom of Movement is Everybody's Right." and "No Borders, No Nation, Stop Deportation!"
Throughout the day the police staged numerous stoppages of the march on weird manufactured pretexts. Always they had waiting major water assault vehicles, as well as hundreds of minivans which seem to be their vehicle of choice.
Here they are taking a breather after a full day of playing off the police, keeping things zanily confrontational.
A fvavorite tactic of the clowns in these situations is to rush madly at the police lines, pulling up at the last minute full of mirth and silliness.
A large contingent of marchers unfurled this huge pink banner, obscuring that many of them disrobed beneath it. Rows of police hemmed in the march on both sides.