As we rose this morning Rostock camp was a hive of activity. While Leila and I were putting the finishing touches to our presentations for the alternative summit, thousands of activists set out to take part in blockades around Heligendamm as the official G8 summit, or as one activist put it ‘Kings on Tour’ got under way.
Reports from yesterday indicate that over 6,000 protesters took part in blockades and there do not seem to have been that many arrests. It seems that such numbers were not expected by police and as one activists described it: ‘when I arrived at 8am at the meeting point I was surprised by the lack of police. Soon we were 1,000 people strong. It was then that the helicopters arrived, I think 10 in all, circling menacingly above our heads.’
I spoke to one UK activist who took part in a blockade at the village of Rethwisch. “I was part of an affinity group with 7 others. It was my first time doing civil disobedience but I trusted my group, and over the last few days we had undergone a large amount of training that I felt confident about how to act in different situations, and that we would look out for each other. We set off in groups following different flags, aiming to get to specific roads – and I think we all managed to get to our target spots. The tactics we were taught worked. That said it was a very tense situation
– the police used tear gas and water canons, but we did not let that put us off. We kept ducking off into adjacent fields to avoid the spray before pushing on till we got to where we wanted to go. I am glad that I did it for the cause.’
Whilst thousands of people were taking direct action, thousands of others were taking action in their own way – whether it was sharing experiences at the alternative summit, using art as a political tool, or engaging in creative stunts, everyone has their niche, and it is this combination of activities that makes protests at the G8 in my mind so powerful. In Germany the dominate view is that the G8 is illegitimate and people are expressing this in whatever way reflects them best. There is even space to discuss the role and remit of the ‘black-block’ in a way that is not just centred on violence.
While more reports about the blockades drift back to Rostock, we have just heard that our camp has been surrounded by police and people are not allowed to enter or leave. It looks like a search is imminent but as yet the police do not have a search warrant. It looks like yet another intimidation tactic by the police and the activists are not rising to the bait.