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Polizei with water pistols

Peter Barton

21 May 2007 - “The G8 summit sucks and is undemocratic, and it should therefore be shut down”. Thus the reason why the G8 Summit at the German Heiligendamm should be blocked was briefly summarised. To ensure a successful action, some practising took place yesterday during the ‘Summit from Below’ at the Weteringschans.

The blockade took place near the Summit from Below, held yesterday by the Netherlands Social Forum (NSF) at de Balie and the Barlaeus Gymnasium at the same Weteringschans. Under the motto ‘A different world is possible’, various guests talked about or debated the environment, poverty, peace, the upcoming G8 Summit and alterglobalisation.

However, this all took place in the absence of the press, for they had to pay the regular entrance fee and that made most journalists wait outside, where there were many organisations had their stands and you hardly had signed one petition before the next came asking for your signature.

The clubs that gave the blockade workshop on the street, including XminY and Aseed, criticised the NSF because of the 250 participating organisations only 2 (!) will actually travel to Heiligendamm in June, where protests against the G8 conference of world leaders will be held, including blockades of access roads.

The activists at the Weteringschans, including the autonomous Dissent network, briefly explained bystanders what will be done from 6 to 8 June. There are four roads leading to the German village of Heiligendamm, and there is one airport nearby. Both the access roads and the airport will have to be blocked, making it difficult for the esteemed guests to reach the conference location.

How such a blockade works was explained yesterday. For example, it is best not to sit on the street alone, for riot police will easily remove you. It is better for activists to link arms, making it more difficult to drag you away.

Even better is for activists to connect to each other by use of lock-ons. These are steel tubes with a pin inside, to which you attach your arm. If someone else does the same from the other end of the tube, it becomes quite difficult for the police to disentangle you. Often this will take an angle grinder, which is a time-consuming affair.

But in the end it is still easier to remove a human blockade than one consisting of a heap of materials such as cut down trees, traffic signs and crash barriers. Because such materials were not available for yesterday’s drill, some removal boxes were used for that purpose.

In the end, an actual congestion was caused. A group of some 25 people set up a blockade at the Weteringschans and two trams nr. 7 were delayed. However, this did not last long, for Polizei agents flown in from Germany broke up the blockade using water pistols and home made batons. After about five minutes, the trams could move on.

Incidentally, additional rules will have to be taken into account in Germany. Whereas it is usual for activists in the Netherlands to hide their identities behind balaclavas, this is forbidden in Germany. There, phoney noses, moustaches and glasses will have to be resorted to. Further, the authorities have an unusually strict anti-demonstration policy in mind, making it doubtful whether effective blockades will be possible at all.

This article was originally published at Ravage Digitaal. Photo: Unai Risueño.


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