10,000 protesters successfully breached police lines
On 6 June, tens of thousands of anti-G8 protesters managed to breach police lines and to disrupt the G8 summit in Rostock. This symbolic victory sent a message across the world – young people and workers will not allow meetings of the world powers to go ahead without drawing attention to the G8’s anti-poor, anti-working class policies.
Below, is an eyewitness report of the 6 June blockades, by CWI member Michael O’Brien.
When protesters blockaded a meeting of world powers
Despite a mobilisation of some 16,000 police from across Germany and all the warnings about an ‘exclusion zone’ and demonstration ban around the G8 meeting outside Rostock, some 10,000 protesters successfully breached police lines and blockaded the opening of the G8 Summit at three different locations, on 6 June.
Sit-down protest during blockade of Rostock G8 Summit
Following the large 2 June demonstration in Rostock, which marked the opening of the anti-G8 week of activities and demonstrations, the German police and pro-establishment media went into overtime to actively discourage people from participating in further protests. Protesters were subjected to endless searches and petty and arbitrary harassment by the police. A week of media hysteria was best illustrated by the scaling down of the press’s original claim that 30 police were seriously injured in clashes with the ‘Black Block’ protesters, on 2 June, to stating just 2 were injured, at the end of the week of G8 protests!
CWI supporters outmanoeuvre police to blockade G8 summit
However, despite this, the police, with their helicopters, water cannon and tear gas, were outmanoeuvred by thousands of peaceful anti-capitalist protesters on 6 June, including over 50 CWI members from Germany, Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Greece and Belgium. The CWI contingent was part of one of three blockades to the approach the G8 conference. Between them, the contingents managed the cut off the conference by road. World leaders and their entourages were forced to be brought by helicopter or by boat to the summit venue. Other blockades took place at the local airport and near a motorway.
CWI supporters shield protesters against police water cannon attack during G8 blockade
Police ‘grossly incompetent’
The 2,000-strong blockade in which the CWI contingent participated blocked a secondary road to the conference and it attracted the most media attention. All of the newspapers and TV news headlines contained dramatic pictures of rows of protesters snaking through wheat fields towards their final destination. The police, laden down with heavy body armour, on a scorching hot day, could not negotiate their way through waist-high crops! They came in for heavy criticism from the German media, which said the police were guilty of gross incompetence.
The blockaders were sustained throughout the day by friendly locals, who supplied water, and later by G8 organisers, who negotiated the same wheat fields to bring protesters food, much to the displeasure of the police.
The CWI contingent more than played its part throughout the blockade: by stewarding many protesters through a water cannon attack, ensuring none of the contingent were arrested, providing medical support, and leading the noisiest chanting. Throughout a long sit-down, CWI supporters made protest chants and speeches, which focused on publicising the German Telecom workers’ strike.
G8 opening delayed
The blockades were an undeniable success. The opening of the G8 was postponed and the mainstream media, through gritted teeth, acknowledged that ‘people power’ won the day.
Eventually, as the police cleared a way through the other two blockades, the majority of protesters at the third blockade felt that our protest had fulfilled its objective and people began to head back to the camp. The CWI proposed an orderly march away from the protest, which was agreed by other contingents (though a minority opted to sit it out for the rest of the G8 summit). However, in a last act of vindictiveness, the police refused to allow the protesters to march to nearby towns where they could get public transport or taxis for the 15km journey back to the camp, in Rostock. Instead, the police insisted on marching us back through the late hours to the camp. However, cars from the camp were brought to pick up protesters. Thankfully, this meant many protesters, who began their march at 7am, could get back to the camp quicker.
On the same day at the blockades, the CWI also held two meetings at the Alternative Summit. Around 60 people came to a discussion on Latin America and nearly 30 attended a meeting on ‘What is Trotskyism?’ Between the two meetings, nearly 20 people indicated an interest in joining the CWI.
Overall, during the blockades and throughout the week of protests, the CWI was the highest profile organisation within the broad anti-capitalist movement and clearly put forward a socialist alternative to the madness of the capitalist system presided over by the G8 leaders.