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(en) Britain, Schnews 15th July 2005, Issue 503/4 G8 [EXCERPT]

Date Sat, 16 Jul 2005 12:59:58 +0300


WAKE UP!! WAKE UP!! IT'S YER SEEING THROUGH THE FOG... SchNEWSMEETINGS, SCHMEETINGS
On Sunday the chasms between the protestors opened even wider with
three separate conferences in the city happening at the same time.
In one hall: the liberal NGO's (where some excellent speakers
outlined their opposition to the G8 and the world order with one
telling us we had to put a stake through the heart of the World
Trade Organisation!) (Talk's cheap but it takes money to buy
whiskey). In another The George Galloway Personality Cult
(Respect, G8 Alternatives and the rest of the ragbag authoritarian
left) We saluted their indefatigability!! Meanwhile a broadly
anti-authoritarian gathering disagreed about what to call
themselves at Edinburgh University. Sadly there was little traffic
between camps. The bulk of those attending the G8 elected not to
participate in direct action against the summit. We have to ask
ourselves why.

FLOWER POWER

Next up was Monday's Carnival of Full Encirclement where the sheer
weight of cops stopped anything carnival-like dead in its tracks.
Hemmed into a park, clowns and black block rained flowers on the
police. Local youths showed us how it was done with flying kicks
at riot shields. The Metropolitan Police did their best to look
like an invading army, their screaming faces all over next
morning's front pages. But while shoppers looked on bemused a few
of us were there to hand SchNEWS to people eager to know what
these anarchists and anti-capitalists supposedly hell bent on
razing Edinburgh to the ground were on about.

------------------------------------------------------------------

CONVERGENCE - FINALLY FACING MY PORTALOO

The Anti-G8 protesters were based around three convergence
centres: Hori-Zone - a rural camp of 3000 near Stirling, plus
centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Horizone

The Horizone in Stirling was, um, a sterling example (sorry) of
how people can organise and make the impossible happen. The police
leaned on a whole series of land-owners who offered us space and
they caved in one by one. The site we ended up with was just
outside of Stirling, miles from Edinburgh and the wrong side of
the Ochil Hills for Gleneagles. So some serious walking was on the
way for the happy campers.

Although the backdrop was beautiful there were a few drawbacks.
First it was surrounded on three sides by a notoriously
treacherous tidal river where many people had drowned, which later
helped the cops block us in. Second it was a landfill site with
potentially explosive methane seeping out, so no campfires or even
smoking allowed on the riverbank because of the fire danger!
Thinking about it it's a surprise the whole of Scotland wasn't
declared a fire risk with the amount of methane seeping out of
certain celebrity orifices!

The site only turned up only two weeks before the summit, leaving
a few people with the mammoth job of making it liveable. Despite
the obstacles people pulled together and did without sleep for
days to make the camp not only a harmonious living space for some
three thousand protesters from all over Europe but an effective
base for action. A staggering achievement. It was truly inspiring
to see people voluntarily tackling logistical nightmares. The crew
even dealt well with the emergency caused by the police stopping
the shit-pumping trucks from emptying the portaloos for days
during their siege of the camp.

There were fifteen kitchens, all working hard to keep everyone
fed. Brighton's Anarchist Teapot and Rampenplan, a Dutch kitchen,
joined forces to form an uber-kitchen feeding a thousand people a
day. Throughout the week there were medics and legal support
tents, the Indymedia tent with free internet access, and the
24-hour 'tranquility team' (who kept an eye on the cops and any
on-site conflicts).

It was also a place where we could organise under pressure and
meet like-minded people without having to split ideological hairs.
The focus on direct action caused a remarkable chaotic cohesion.
However in some ways the strengths of the ghetto worked against
us. There were 60,000 people at the G8 Alternatives rally being
'entertained' by tired old rockers and being hoodwinked into
thinking they were making a difference. Meanwhile a few thousand
of us almost stopped the summit and outran, outsmarted, and in
some cases outfought an enormous police presence. Horizone was too
far away for the curious to wander into, apart from some Stirling
locals, most of whom were pleasantly surprised. It would have been
nice if more people from outside the 'scene' had the chance to
participate in this mostly successful living experiment, but it
would also have made planning actions more complicated than it
already was.

Edinburgh

The Jack Kane centre in Edinburgh played host to several thousand
protesters throughout the week. It certainly wasn't pretty -
walled in, with a Stalag Luft holiday camp feel due to the
watchtowers and constant security patrols. But the security turned
out to be sound and apparently mostly Welsh for some reason.
Craigmillar is a poor outlying bit of Edinburgh. Some local kids
came and helped out in the kitchen and the community centre opened
up their doors and gave people free access to all their
facilities.

The Forrest Cafe was a major meeting point with the Indymedia
centre being run upstairs.

Glasgow

In Glasgow there was a self-organised crash space. It was smaller
than the others, holding less than two hundred at a time,
including affinity groups from all over who used it as a base.

------------------------------------------------------------------

PLANNING - WE ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE

Our disorganisation is our strength! Hori-zone the eco-village
convergence centre was a decentralised and effective entity for
planning actions. Co-ordinating protests in a consensus manner
with three thousand vocal activists seemed an impossible task.
Faff, paranoia and strange hand signals seemed to doom the project
from the start. But it worked!

"But there's all along been a chaotic, slippery quality to the
energy of this project, something that resists plans and
timetables and logical organization. By the end of the day, we
have plans, multiple plans, plans so complex and overlaid with
fallbacks that even if we're infiltrated, I doubt the cops can
understand them. We barely do. Suddenly all the plans seem
completely chaotic-but then, chaos is what we're trying to
create," said Starhawk, freelance facilitator and American
Eco-Witch. Because so much of the action was organised through
small and larger groups talking among themselves and all sorting
out their own little parts of the picture, nobody knew the whole
story least of all the cops.

Our correspondent in Glasgow had a tough time with meetings ending
up hamstrung by disagreements. In the end groups left and did
their own thing which might have been for the best.

Although we're all over the place, we can't be everywhere. SchNEWS
didn't have any info on how Edinburgh campers managed to organise
themselves, but evidently they did.

------------------------------------------------------------------

DISARM DSEI 2005

13-16th September 2005: DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment
International) is the world's biggest weapons fair selling
everything from battleships and attack helicopters to cluster
bombs and machine guns. At DSEi 2003 there were 973 exhibitors
selling their deadly wares to delegates from a third of the
world's countries. DSEi 2005 runs from 13 - 16 September, at the
ExCeL Centre, London Docklands. DISARM DSEi is calling for a week
of action and resistance against this evil trade, both at the
exhibition and at relevant targets across the country. There are
also plans for a convergence space and two day conference. There's
loads to do to make this happen - organising actions, publicity,
fundraising, convergence spaces, mobilisation...the list is
endless. Get involved now!

www.dsei.org

------------------------------------------------------------------

ACTION STATIONS - WHY DON'T WE DO IT IN THE ROAD?

On the morning of Wednesday 6th, the opening day of the summit,
different affinity groups using a broad spectrum of tactics
blockaded roads leading to Gleneagles, causing serious disruption
to the opening of the conference. The top bananas were flown in by
helicopter, but some 6,000 minions were coming along to attend to
their every whim. It was the translators, bureaucrats and cooks
that would have to use road and rail, and if we stopped them we
could stop the summit.

Sterling efforts on the communications front meant that if a
blockade was cleared, people could find out and plug the gap. A
spontaneous information hub centred around a map covered in
post-it notes helped filter out the rampant rumours. By noon it
was clear that the blockades had been largely successful. Despite
all the media-fed paranoia about over policing, on the day they
were left overstretched and underbrained. Delegates to the summit
were left stranded on gridlocked roads. The diverse range of
tactics used kept the police guessing. One minute they'd be faced
with black bloc, the next it would be clowns, kids or hippies sat
in the road.

These actions may not have prevented the G8 summit from taking
place, but they certainly slowed things down and cost G8 plc an
absolute packet. More importantly the demos showed how
non-hierarchical decision making can produce real results.

Tactical Chaos

The broad plan emerged late on Tuesday night to stage a number of
blockades on the roads surrounding Gleneagles. From Hori-Zone
there were two public blockading actions which had been proposed
by different groups and consented to on by the ecovillage
spokes-council - a blockade of the A9 (the primary route for
delegates and staff), and another of the M9, a strategic point
within walking distance of the ecovillage. A car convoy and
critical mass bike ride served as flying blockades.

The fact that the eco-village was easy to seal off was the big
difficulty to overcome. The A9 was also an eight hour hike from
the ecovillage. But this didn't deter us. Groups left the
eco-village early on Tuesday to pre-empt the police. People sat in
circles with maps asking questions like "does blue mean water
then?". Throughout the day, groups approached the action transport
tent, and asked for a lift to whichever hedge they were going to
(try to) sleep in. Others just started walking over the hills
towards Gleneagles. As darkness fell, hundreds of activists were
hidden in the hills and forests around Gleneagles.

A9 Blockade

Some of the SchNEWS crew joined the Anarchist ramblers for a cross
country hike...

"After long and painful meetings, protesters trekked into the
hills on Tuesday night, hiding from helicopters in ditches and
schlepping through bogs. Over the night some two hundred dogged,
soggy protesters made the hike. They slept in the woods in the
rain for an hour or so then got up for... another meeting. Hooray!

Scouts found cops waiting for us at the point on the A9 where we
had planned to emerge, so we improvised and ran along a backroad
to the A9, meeting up with other protesters that had been holed
out up in the hills, swelling our numbers further. The crowd got
excited and energised as it started to look like we did have a
chance after a doom-laden morning. We saw the junction where our
road hit the A9 was blocked by police, so we spilled into a field
and charged down. The police were slow to respond and by the time
they had formed a line and called for backup there were fifty
people blocking the road out of Gleneagles. While the police had
their hands full cleaning that up, we heard that another blockade
had been formed further up the road. We regrouped, moved and did a
series of smaller blockades further down the road. These were the
'rolling blockades' and they worked a treat. In the end the road
was shut most of the time till early afternoon and we went home
buzzing.

"We met locals along the way who were supportive - one farmer came
out to meet us and said we were welcome to walk on his fields, but
to stay off his barley crops. We were happy to oblige. We met a
couple out for a walk taking photographs of the coppers, who said
"We haven't seen a policeman in our village for 25 years and now
there's thousands!"

Big Bad Black Block Battle of Bannockburn Bonanza

If you believed the national press you'd think five thousand
anarchists had gone on the rampage in a small Scottish town with
no other motivation than mindless destruction. Hellbent on an orgy
of pointless devastation, these "mindless thugs" (Daily Record)
and "losers" (Bob Geldof )* ripped satellite dishes from houses
and trashed personal cars. Scottish First minister Jack Connell
went so far as to say "they are not protestors, they do not have a
cause."

SchNEWS' correspondent on the march saw things bit differently...

"One thing united the marchers who left site at that time in the
morning, a determination to get to the M9 motorway and blockade it
no matter what. People were fed up with police tactics of
encirclement and indiscriminate violence. A sudden torrential
downpour at 3am concealed us from the prying eyes of police
helicopters. A crowd of about five hundred masked anarchists armed
with sticks and bricks, split into three blocs to avoid being
hemmed in by the familiar kettle tactic, marched out of the camp
and set off for the centre of Stirling.

Frustrated by a line of police across the bridge into town and
their own inability to make a 'consensus' decision, anarchists
initially dithered but soon vented their anger at corporate
symbols in Springkerse Industrial estate. The destruction of
Burger King (well there wasn't a McDonald's) was followed by a
surge onto the A91, which leads directly through Bannockburn to
the M9. Police kept throwing lines of shielded cops across the
road but they were pushed or battered out of the way with
surprising ease. Anarchos pushed looted shopping trolleys full of
bricks to provide a constant supply of ammo. The bloc literally
fought its way from the centre of Stirling to the M9. The keys to
its success? Solidarity and organisation. (and the fact the road
was lined with fist sized lumps of granite). Attempts to make
arrests were collectively shrugged off. Although police action
split the bloc they never regained the initiative and as different
groups made their way to the road they lost control of the
motorway for three hours. In all that time only one unmarked
vehicle was attacked and that had a police hat on the dashboard.
Despite corporate press reports we saw no random destruction of
private property. What violence there was was targeted at police
attempts to stop the marchers. Locals in Bannockburn (including
one middle aged woman in a pristine white dressing gown) seemed
happy to direct people onto the M9."

*Ok so we've never had a hit record in the eighties but we've
never cuddled Tony Blair either.

Lock On Barricades

Big actions took care of the main transport arteries but the
police were bound to have a back up plan for that.
"Minor routes were taken by small "affinity groups" who had been
meeting in secret in the weeks leading up to the summit. Early in
the morning, we struck, focusing on locations close to where staff
were staying. We also blockaded the rail lines. Most of the
blockades used sophisticated lock-on techniques like perching up a
tripod made of scaffold tubes. People also locked onto cars were
also used. The first blockade to hit was the one at Crieff, where
staff and American delegates were staying. The first car we
stopped was a group of American delegates trying to get to the
summit. Some of the affinity blockades lasted the entire day,
while a few were taken down in about two hours".

Meanwhile...

Actions flowing out of the convergence centres were so varied that
we simply don't have eyewitness reports. Here's some other stuff
wot happened.

Flying blockades...

Bike convoy www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/316608.html

Kids protest www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/317186.html

Glasgow M74 Protest www3.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/317994.html

Edinburgh

Those in Edinburgh decided to blockade the Sheraton Grand Hotel,
where a number of delegates were staying. The delegation from
Japan ended up being delayed an additional half hour, just to get
out the hotel. While this blockade would turn out to be small, it
had the effect of creating a diversion, drawing most of the police
resources into the city. It also had the added bonus of forcing
Bob Geldof to switch hotels, from the Sheraton to the downmarket
Balmoral.. A car "crash" blocked the main route out of Edinburgh
to Gleneagles.

There were six days of action against the G8 and here's a few
other events which happened during the week...

Monday

2000 descend on Faslane Naval Base - home to all of Britain's
nuclear armed submarines - with all entrances closed and people
locking-on to gates.

Tuesday

Several hundred gather for the No Borders/Migrants march at
Dungavel Detention Centre, linking neo-liberalism and the policies
of the G8 with the fact that they cause people to flee danger and
war in their countries and seek asylum elsewhere. The Home Office
ordered Dungavel to be emptied of detainees and staff for the
duration of the G8.

Thursday

In Glasgow six people lock onto entrance to Weir Pumps, one of the
first UK companies to win contracts in Iraq.

With a lot of people either arrested or on bail conditions to
leave Scotland, many are involved in prisoner support, including
an action at Saughton prison with Infernal Noise Brigade.

Friday

Fifteen people visit the nearby Raytheon factory to alert people
to the US firm's war mongering trade.

The Commerce St Bridge is occupied in a Street Party in Glasgow to
highlight opposition to the M74 motorway, which if built would cut
a swathe through communities in the Gorbals. The police cordoned
one group and marched them to the M74 protest site. www.jam74.org

Also prisoner support continues with 100 demonstrating at Saughton
prison in Edinburgh.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Indymedia UK - FOR A FULL TIMELINE OF G8 EVENTS WITH TEXT, PHOTO'S
AND FREE VIDEO CLIPS VISIT WWW.INDYMEDIA.ORG.UK

------------------------------------------------------------------

G8 ACTIONS - RING OF STEEL

Having been taken so thoroughly by surprise in the early hours of
Wednesday the police weren't gonna get fooled again. At three on
Thursday morning large numbers of police began to appear outside
the Horizone. Mad paranoia swept the camp and rumour ran like a
rabid dog biting and infecting all in its path. Probably the best
rumour doing the rounds was that the football stadium on site had
been completely done over by the Black Block despite it being
clearly visible and undamaged.

What had happened was that police had blockaded all exits from the
site in massive numbers. Nobody was allowed to leave until
daybreak and then only with a plane ticket or dentist's
appointment or the like. Nobody seemed sure what law they were
using, police included, but a legal debate seemed off the cards in
the face of such a naked display of force.

Police helicopters hovered and circled continually over the site.
At this point the news of the London bombings began to filter
through. Sleep deprived, boxed in and worried about the scale of
what was happening in London and for the safety of friends and
relatives, our action plans ended up on the back burner. A
candlelit vigil was organised for the victims of the London
bombings, and for all victims of war and terrorism worldwide.

The police retained their tight control until the weekend.
Wednesday had been excellent for most people, but by Thursday the
energy had peaked and many people had not slept in days and were
ready to drop.

Getting out in numbers proved impossible. Even the team who came
to empty the portaloos were denied access, leading to some
seriously nasty toilets. Dozens got stomach bugs and spent a day
or two running laps from tents to bogs.

The focus for people's energy moved to prisoner support and
keeping the site liveable. There was a solidarity demo for those
in jail and a hygiene blitz in the kitchens. Some great music and
film footage from the week made the camp feel like a festival.

------------------------------------------------------------------

MEDYA RUBBISH

The morning after a day of protest like Wednesday, you can rely on
getting a good laugh out of the right wing tabloid newspapers, and
seeing how the hacks have turned their bile-ridden pun-tastic
scribing skills onto twisting events to fit every little-Britain
prejudice they stand for. That's if you don't get trampled in the
rush of anarchists buying the Mail and the Sun to see if their
mates are in it. Here's some slap-stick comedy moments from the
tabloid papers which make you realise how desperately we need
alternative media like Indymedia, SchNEWS et al.

* The Sun is famous for sloppy right wing journalism and
predictably described actions at Gleneagles as 'Protesters Spark
Orgy Of Violence' with 'an army of anarchist thugs' attacking
'blood soaked' cops.

* Taking the biscuit was News Of The World's article on July 10th
about their 'mole' who went undercover at the Stirling camp to
expose the 'anarchist thugs' plotting a violent riot. The article
names and photographs the 'ringleaders' who had apparently called
on every yob across Europe of all political stripes to join in the
fun. To them the Dissent Network was a 'well funded international
organisation hell-bent on causing disruption', and they were
joined by the French 'European Anarchy Terror Network', along with
far right groups like the Ultras - Italian football hooligans -
and even the infamous Nazi hate-gang Combat 18. (In truth if any
fascist groups had shown their faces they wouldn't have lasted
five bloodied minutes).

* Our favourite infiltrator in the Hori-zone was Kate Ginn of the
Scottish Daily Mail. In a stunning expose she reported that "There
are several portaloos, but only the hardiest campers use these
after the first few days.... among the middle-class students with
Home Counties accents were the militant activists. Dressed all in
black, the members of Dissent! kept to themselves. Their tent was
strictly out of bounds to strangers." (Well so was mine).
"Cannabis was openly smoked and other drugs were freely available"
(News to us, we spent three days trying to find a bit of weed) "It
is no place for children, who run around unsupervised. One mother
wandered past with a 'F**k the G8' sticker on the side of her
pram". (Call Social Services!) "They seemed to see themselves as
support for the more militant groups to unleash their violent
mayhem. 'We're just here to back up the big boys,' said Dave from
South London." (Did he really?) And for genuine investigative
journalism you can't beat "In the evening, we queued to buy
chickpea dinners at £1.50 in the strictly vegan camp".

* Journalists at Rupert Murdoch's Fox News were in fine form,
commenting about the London bombs. Speaking about the reaction of
the financial markets one said: "Just on a personal basis ... I
saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I
thought 'hmm, time to buy'." Another said the attacks had the
effect of putting terrorism back on the top of the G8's agenda, in
place of global warming and African aid. "I think that works to
our advantage, in the western world's advantage, for people to
experience something like this." While a third Fox News host
complained that the International Olympic Committee "missed a
golden opportunity" by not awarding the 2012 games to France. "If
they had picked France instead of London to hold the Olympics, it
would have been the one time we could look forward to where we
didn't worry about terrorism. They'd blow up Paris, and who
cares?"

------------------------------------------------------------------

Prisoner Support

During the protests against the G8 over 700 people were detained
or arrested by the police, often overnight, and around 366 people
have been arrested and charged. The courts have imposed draconian
bail conditions, which not only prevented those arrested from
continuing their protests against the G8 summit, but forced those
not resident in Scotland to leave at an impossible speed, making
the conditions impossible to comply with. As a direct result of
this tactic, some people were rearrested for breach of bail.
People unable to give an address in the UK have been remanded in
prison, even though in all the cases we are aware of, none faces
serious enough charges to result in a prison sentence even if
convicted. Amongst those remanded in custody was one person aged
16 and a woman with a child.

Huge numbers of people were photographed and/or filmed just for
participating in protests or because they were staying at a
campsite, again a form of policing designed to intimidate.

At the time of going to press: The 5 men who have spent a week in
prison in Edinburgh (Saughton prison) and were heard in court on
Tuesday, got released on bail. This means at the moment there is
one man left in Edinburgh prison, arrested during G8 protests but
now held for other unrelated matters. There are two women in
Stirling (Cornton Vale prison). One convicted for previous unpaid
fines, probably out on Friday, one on remand until court on
Friday. There are two men in Glasgow (Barlinnie prison). One
convicted for previous faslane stuff, one on remand.

To support prisoners contact: G8 Legal support team
g8legalsupport@riseup.net or Brighton Anarchist Black Cross
mail@brightonabc.org.uk www.brightonabc.org.uk

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