BLOCKADING THE G8 SUMMIT

Jun 05, 2007

Stunning success in Baltic German fields and lanes.

On Wednesday protestors successfully blocked the main roads in the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in Germany. This was one of the most exciting and successful actions I have ever been on. The BLOCK G8 CAMPAIGN has been planning this action for over a year and was set up by a range of organisations including church groups and veterans of the anti-nuclear movement as well as autonomist and anarchist groups. I have to admit then when I attended to final BLOCK G8 planning meeting on Tuesday night I was sceptical about the effectiveness of the FIVE FINGER TACTIC, but on the day it worked brilliantly.

From 8am protestors assembled at various points, some having to walk several km. I was with the Rostock camp who assembled at a small village called Admanshagen. Permission for a legal rally had been granted here. Numbers grew steadily and police announced that if we moved from the area they would try to stop us. At 10am I recieved a text from a friend at the Reddlich camp saying that 4,000 people has moved off from there and were heading towards their blockade point. By 11am we had 3-4 thousand people and we were ready to go.

People distributed evenly into blocks behind 5 different coloured flags and each group headed off in different directions. This is the key to the five finger tactic, as it forces the police lines to thin out, making it easy for protestors to get through. My group pulled down a thin wire fence and streamed across the fields. It took us several hours to get to our blockade point. It was heavy going through the crops, and several times the police tried to stop us, but the numbers of people and the area we were spread over meant we got through each time. The police resources were spread too thinly and they were outnumbered. We were also helped by the fact that the water cannons and riot cops were unable to follow us into the corn fields, and tear gas was pretty ineffective when the cannistors fall into dense crops.

We got news that the Reddelich camp had reached their blockade point which helped spur us on. When we finally reched our blockade point a small number of police tried to stop us taking the road but by then our confidence was so high they couldn’t stop us. With us in place it meant that all the main roads into the summit were now blocked and the only way in was by boat or helicopter. Unconfirmed reports say that the Summit was delayed as the translators and other support staff could not get through. This is wonderful symbolic and physical show of defiance against the likes of Bush, Blair and Merkel.

The mood on the blockade was ecstatic! A few people were suffering the effects of batons, tear gas and pepper spray but for the majority the greater problems were sunbun and hayfever. The philosophy of BLOCK G8 was that it would be peaceful, even in the event of police of attacks. The Greman press reports have been largely positive, and we found local people friendly and happy to have us there.

At the time of writing the blockades are still in place, with many people staying place on the roads overnight. I was surprised that the police didn’t try to clear us. Maybe the level of press interest helped us – there were cameras at each blockade, it would have looked bad for the police the violently break up a peaceful protest, and obstruction of the road is a low grade offence under German law. Maybe they were unwilling to arrest and process several thousands of people, who knows?

The success of these blockades shows that Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) can be effective if done with large enough numbers of people and is well thought out. The BLOCK G8 organisers, as well as having a very clear strategy of how to get to the blockade points had sorted out basic practicalities. Bags of straw and air beds to sit on, food, water and blankets were transported to the blockades, as well as constant information of progress of the other groups being relayed to us.

It was a great shame that the Alternative Summit was organised for the same day as the blockades as many people had to choose which to go to. This sort of idiotic planning splits the movement and creates artifical divisions between people sitting in meetings and those out on the streets (or fields). Many people come to the anti G8 events wanting to get involved in both action and disscussion, and it should be organised so that they can do so.

These blockades have been truely inspirational for me. It shows that large numbers of people are prepared to come on these actions not just small groups of experienced NVDA activists. Its true that this kind of action does exclude some people – those who are not physically fit or those who have refugee status and cannot risk being arrested for example. Nonetheless it is a wonderful show of defiance against the policies of poverty and war of the G8 leaders. It shows them that wherever they meet we will show our opposition both symbolically and physically and that the anti capitalist movement is still alive and kicking!

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