Tuesday, 5 June 2007

The G8 Summit

My favourite photo from the G8 Summit protest last weekend (from a BBC photo-essay):

Here's another (from indymedia):

Also from indymedia. I love the little sticker someone put up on this shield:

There were attempts to bribe the police to change sides:

Some members of the clown army attempted to barricade the barricaders:

The G8 kings were also on tour:
You can see more of the G8 kings on tour as well as some of the other creative protest banners/installations/costumes here.

Now here is a photo of the incident that sparked off the clashes between the police and some of the protesters. These two guys are plain-clothes policemen and they jumped the guy on the ground in the front as a crowd was gathering to listen to the concert. The other fellow on the ground came rushing in to help and these guys called in the snatch squad that had gathered nearby. The riot police waded in which sparked off the clashes. The incident has actually been caught on video and can be found here. The commentary is in German, so, if like me you don't speak the language, it gets interesting about 2 minutes in.

What's interesting is that the rally had been completely peaceful up to then. The police, I suppose would say they were trying to head off trouble by snatching potential troublemakers before anything started, but their tactics were provocative, and in the eyes of many who were there, deliberately calculated to disrupt the protests. A brief description of the clashes and photos can be found at indymedia here.

The police was quick to blame the violence on the blak-bloc - an anarchist group that has often clashed violently with police at various anti-capitalist demonstrations. Here's a picture of their contingent:

But the way the German police handled things has also come into criticism. At the G8 summit in the UK in 2005, the British police had surrounded the blak-block contingent, not letting them march. The clandestine rebel insurgent clown army intervened and rather than face off with the protesters, the police allowed them to march, thereby avoiding any violent confrontation [A somewhat grainy video still presentation of this incident can be viewed here.] You can see videos of the clown army in action here and here. But this video of them in action in Germany is awesome:

The run-up to the weekend protest had already foreshadowed trouble. The German police had come in for criticism even in the mainstream media for its series of raids in early May of various leftist organisations who were gearing up for the G8 summit. Then in a small protest in Hamburg on 28th May police provocations had led to clashes and the march being called off early in protest of police tactics - such as the use of snatch squads against individuals breaking minor rules (covering one's face, having the wrong size billboard etc.). When the demonstration broke up, the participants found themselves surrounded and hemmed in by the police. While some groups tried to break out, others just sat on the street, waiting to be allowed to leave. You can see from this photograph how the protest got hemmed in:

The police getting crucial reinforcements:

Here's a report on the Hamburg demo. What was clear was that the police were not planning on playing nice at the weekend G8 demo and that obviously had something to do with the violence that broke out. According to the Guardian, 16,000 police are being deployed for the coming week of demonstrations in order to "halt violence".

Good luck with that.


P.S.: The BBC website has a basic primer on why people are protesting against the G8.

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