Saturday, June 2: G8 leaders won’t arrive for several days, but the demonstrations in Germany have already begun. I’m just back from today’s march, which started in a few different locations throughout city of Rostock, Gemany, and then converged at the fair grounds near the city’s harbor. The Police have apparently claimed that there were about 25,000 people here today, but even a casual observer could have seen that there were far more (the organizers argue that about 80,000 people turned out).
It was an extremely diverse group of protesters, all sharing a common concern that the world is moving in the wrong direction and that G8 leaders aren’t doing enough about it. Judging by the banners and signs, the issues of climate change, war, corporate greed, global poverty and external debt brought most people to Rostock today. Oil Change International is here because in one way or another oil plays a big role in all of these problems.
The march itself was overwhelmingly peaceful. Unfortunately, after people had converged on the fair grounds for the post-march rally and concert, a clash between a small group of protesters and the police erupted. It is hard to know exactly how it started. On the one hand, the police had agreed to stay out of the fair grounds and at some stage they swarmed in in riot gear and started attacking protesters. On the other hand, a small group of people may have been throwing things at the police from the fair grounds thereby triggering the riot squad’s invasion. The whole skirmish with police was only taking up about 20 percent of the area and the overwhelming majority of the people were on the other side of the field carrying on peacefully and uninterrupted. Nevertheless, the violence has over-shadowed the reasons why most people turned up here today. Lets hope we can turn that around in the coming days.