Thursday report from the anti-G8 protests

Thursday night was short, so after the more autonomous protesters gave up their 4.30am morning walk and I was back at about 6 am, I decided to go back snoozing a bit in the tent, as I had only 2 hrs sleep at most.

Another protest started off at camp Reddelich to join protesters at the Westgate, but without the black-blocky people and I met all the other IMC UK volunteers, who had slept in for the morning walk. They decided to join that march, so I thought that as I had a car, I could either catch them up later or go to a different event, so we had everything covered.

My boyfriend is here with me at the protests, but he is working now in one of the precarious temp jobs with low pay and long hours and without trade union support and has taken precious holidays from his job, so he persuaded me to go to the beach with him and a friend from IMC Athens.

As we all got sticky and smelly from the hot temperature and sun and camping now, we were delighted to go to Niemhagen to the little East German town, where most of the clashes at the peaceful blockades happened on Wednesday.
When we arrived we were pretty alone on the beach but got joined by about six police vans later onwards when we left.

We felt very refreshed and made our way to Rostock via Warnemuende, where a big military harbour and infrastructure is situated and has been protested against on Thursday. We also missed the wrong turning and suddenly ended up in the traffic jam of the huge Bono-Geldof gig, which we had ignored so far. About 80 000 were there, according to the local radio station, who reported and transmitted live from the concert. The entry fee to the gig was about 2.80 Euros, and it was totally sold out in advance and according to mainstream media the biggest gig that ever happened here in the area. We were a bit dismissive about the gig, but met a local teenager at dinner who was at the gig and felt now motivated to do something against poverty and the G8 and enthusiastically asked us where she could please join the next sit-down blockade please – even though it was about 11 o’clock at night.

After our visit to the beach, we made it to Rostock at about 6.30pm, in time to see what was going on at the convergence centre in Evershagen, where neonazis had announced an attack on it at about 7pm. Originally they wanted to have a march in Rostock against “left-wing chaotic people”, but it got forbidden by the court, so they mobilized on their website to attack the convergence centre, which would seem to be a pretty stupid idea given the amount of protesters in the city, but when we arrived there, the atmosphere was very tense, and there were surprisingly few people in the convergence centre to defend it in case of an attack. We might have been thirty or forty there, and my friend begged me to go. I told him that we couldn’t, that we would need to stay on and even would need to defend the IMC located in the convergence centre in case of an attack, especially as the bicycle information couriers returned with a number of 60 neonazi hooligans wanting to bash us up. The protesters luckily enough had built defences and nailed shut all the windows so the hools would have it more difficult to get in via the windows, and blockaded the doors with furniture. The tool workshop space was raided and shields were built out of pieces of wood and hose pipes; more experienced activists used thick layers of tapes to adapt their bicycle pumps into something like a stick and glass bottles were collected.
A battle plan was consented on in the plenary, with people who did not want to fight directly being in the upper floors to be the second or third row of the defence. I was a bit scared in the way that the whole preparations sounded very realistic and I did not want to fight and so did actually nobody there.
I wondered if the police would really leave us to be beaten up, but then, Rostock is famous for the police not intervening during the racist attack in 1992 on the Vietnamese refugees in their low-rise, which has now been decorated with a gigantic sunflower mosaic, we saw it on the way into Rostock when we got lost again.
In fact, many more people have died because of neonazi attacks in Germany in the last 17 years after the reunification. Numbers are in a wide range, depending on if the police classify it as an offence with a neonazi background, and quite often they don’t to not harm the tourist industry and the local reputation. But even officially, over 150 people have been killed alone, and many more injured. Sentences are low because they like to attack in crowds, it is very difficult to prove in court who actually did the deadly kick in the face.

Given this background, the constant repression of left-wing activists by the German state is just ridiculous, especially the ones on the 9th of May with the accusations of building up a left-wing terrorist network against the G8.

The atmosphere was pretty tense then in the convergence centre, but luckily enough, more and more antifascists came to support us and numbers seemed to even out, also the police appeared and the info was given out that they forced the neonazis onto a bus and shipped them away. I had left my press card and my passport in my car – how stupid of me – because the next thing that happened was that they surrounded the convergence centre and did not let anybody out without controlling their ID and searching them for weapons.
I heard a sound system and I still believe that there was a rally two houses away behind the trees by these neonazis, but could not go out and take pics or footage.

As soon as the neonazis disappeared, the police left and we were all free to go without ID checks and searches. We were told to take care still and not to go wandering around the city alone, so we picked up some hitchhikers as usual.

We also met the corporate press, which was late again and asking what was going on. Later on, our hitchhikers told us, that the neonazi rally numbers had gone up to 150.

When returning back to the camp, we met the other IMC activists and heard that they were baton-charged, water-cannoned and specifically targeted by pepper spray, poor Jason even got specifically targeted by a policeman waiting for him with the pepper spray to turn his face into his direction, despite Jason having official G8 journalist accreditation and a video camera and is reporting for More4 and Channel4 occasionally as a freelance during this summit. Another DPA agency journalist was so heavily injured by the water cannon that he might lose his eyesight and is now in hospital. But Jason got his footage out on the evening news this Thursday evening on More4 News, of the policemen charging the non-violent sit-down blockade of the protesters, despite his video camera being drowned in the water by the water cannons and the pepper spray, but when I met him, he still was pissed off, that because of being pepper-sprayed he could not film the bloody baton-charge on the protesters. I am now really impressed, especially as without him the Channel4 lot would not have shown these important images and not even known about these, featuring pics and vox pox of protesters from the peaceful east gate blockade instead.

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