'We will, we will, block you'
It was billed as the day they would bring the eight most powerful nations to their knees by sitting in the road, but by 9am the idealists, anticapitalists and anarchists had already been forced to take a hike.
James Foley (22), a student from Glasgow, Scotland, had risen at 7.15am at the tent city in Rostock to join thousands of anti-G8 demonstrators marching on the luxurious Baltic spa resort of Heiligendamm, where world leaders were gathering.
When their shuttle buses were stopped by police, Foley and thousands of his comrades decided to walk the 22km to the resort. Straggling lines of children, students, mothers and the occasional flag-waving granny waded waist deep through grey-green wheat like a medieval army, jumping ditches and passing under twirling windfarms.
By lunchtime the demonstrators cheered news relayed by loud-hailer that 10Â 000 people had breached the restricted zone placed around the G8, blocking the main roads into the summit—in some cases by felling trees .
German police said eight officers had been injured in skirmishes when protesters twice broke through police lines to continue their march on Heiligendamm. Dozens of anti-G8 marchers reported burns and bruises from water cannon used to clear roads of protesters. The police claimed protesters threw stones but there was no repeat of the pitched battles that injured 1Â 000 people last weekend in Rostock.
This normally tranquil rural corner of Germany was filled with police dogs, horses, helicopters, armoured cars, unmarked vehicles and riot police racing to cut off the route to Heiligendamm.
After batons and teargas, the 16Â 000-strong German police discovered a more devilish weapon: the power of tedium. Protesters were corralled in small groups and painstakingly—and very slowly—searched.
At every turn, police slowed down the marchers, who sang songs and even evoked the power of rock group Queen—chanting “We will, we will, block you” at riot squads as they sat down in country roads. When the protesters passed the 16km mark, armed riot police moved swiftly, jogging into a field and dividing the main march, before splitting them again into smaller groups.
While a few anarchists in black hoods and caps cut through barbed wire police had laid near the fence, most of the march became becalmed in the village of Borgerende, where the marchers sat in the street in the sunshine surrounded by more than 100 police vans. Bemused locals took photographs. One pensioner offered the perspiring revolutionaries refills of water.
Many of the marchers felt the police tactics to stop them getting within shouting distance of George W Bush and his peers infringed their freedom of assembly. “By sheer force of numbers our right to peaceful protest has been completely curtailed,” said Foley.
By late afternoon, the majority of the marchers had conceded defeat in their attempt to stop G8 going ahead. The more important thing, protesters insisted, was that they were questioning the legitimacy of capitalist globalisation by our world leaders.—Â