Police Violence becomes clearer

Jun 05, 2007

Rostock is much calmer now (Tuesday). Yesterday’s major event – the No Borders demonstration was harassed and blockaded by the cops, protesters tolerance was tested to the extreme.

Starting at 1pm – 2pm with a rally near to a suburban asylum seekers prison, the demo far outstripped expectations. Organisers had originally registered the demo as expecting a 2000 strong turn out. It appears we have here a rare incidence of police over estimation of protester numbers on a demo. We walked from town, the trams and buses had been stopped. Shortly before arriving at the rally, there was a stand off between a turkish group and the police. One of their number had been arrested apparently for “being a criminal on Saturday” and a determined but peaceful standoff materialised.
We passed to the rally, I guess there was around 3 – 4000 people there. Speeches came from various activists and refugees living in Germany. It was an important issue for Rostock, an asylum hostel was attacked and burnt out in the early 1990s killing more than a dozen of the residents. There are frequent reports of attacks on migrants in the city.
The demo was delayed as protesters from the Reddelich camp site had been delayed in their journey to the demo by police checks. we waited. Soon, police water cannon, vans and thousands of riot cops moved in and we were pretty much surrounded, and the front of the demo blocked. Eventually it was explained by march organisers over the tannoys that the police believed there were around 500 violent people present and the demo would not be able to go ahead. We waited more.
Later still, there came an announcement that we could only march if people were not wearing masks or “carrying bottles, stones or axes” (!??!). I did see bottles, of water and shamefully for some coca-cola, I didn’t see anyone picking up stones, axes were not in evidence either.
We moved a bit, were stopped, moved some more, were stopped again,
and corralled. People were not allowed through police lines to buy food, use toilet facilities or simply go home. It had echoes of Oxford Circus on MayDay in 2001. there was constant antagonism from the cops and it appeared a determined effort to get the whole event to kick off. It didn’t.
After that it was announced that 2000 had been expected and because the demo was 5 times that number to 10000, it wasn’t possible to take the march to the town centre. The numbers had certainly grown significantly, but I reckon 7 or 8000 were there.
So the 500 were not so violent it transpired. The expected trouble didn’t happen and it left people asking a few pertinent questions.
After the furore on Saturday’s centre piece demo has died down we can look back and see what really happened. Rumours (as yet I’ve not been able to confirm this or otherwise) have it that the police officer in charge of the whole G8 operation has been sacked, whihc if true would be a masive admission of mistakes. The media have grossly exaggerated the level of violence and number of police injuries. I did an interview with BBC World Service on Saturday night and they claimed 140 police seriously injured. Hospitals report no where near that number. Most injured demonstrators were hit by ‘friendly fire’ – crap throwers showering stones on demonstrators.
The Black Bloc themselves appear to consist predominantly of teenage hoodie wearing folk, skittish, very jumpy and looking for excitement. At the end of Saturday’s demo when the majority of the scuffles took place, they would run from the cops at the slightest movement. Most stones thrown appeared to be aimed at armoured cars and water cannon vehicles.
One of the national papers here had a very amusing photo yesterday, wiht photoshopped-in rocks apparently flying towards the police from a crowd of hoodies.
Very interesting to note that there are NO shops smashed and very little damage to public or private property. So the Black Bloc do seem to be working within some sort of political parameters.
Now it appears that Bush arrives tonight – we are heading for the emergency planing metings for the welcoming committee – more later.

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