London G8 debrief meeting notes
14 of june 2007
- amazing organisation at the Reddelich camp, especially given the numbers of people. Lovely showers, hot food always available etc.
- good to have dry nights before action – encouraging sensible pre-action behaviour
- was a shame there was no eco-feeling to the camp – but this would have involved a massive extra effort and is probably impossible for a camp that size.
- Reddelich camp was simply too big to be blocked by the cops.
- Rostock camp had a very different atmosphere – strange mix of communist groups, punks, parties, leftist groups, NGOs, music.
Information for actions
- flows of information to the protesters was very good – especially with info points on the roads/towns etc.
- information on the camps a bit more problematic – very good to have the ticker up on the board, but wrong information wasn't always corrected.
- really good!
- People used the information from dispatch to plan their actions, accessed sometimes by mobile phones, especially when on actions in Rostock.
- Was very helpful in gaining some perspective of what was going on elsewhere, often difficult in these situations. This also helped morale!
- There was other information available on the camps which wasn't reported on dispatch, perhaps because it wasn't easily verifiable. Was dispatch not hooked into these sources, or just unable to verify them and so couldn't use them?
- But disappointing that pretty much only “Indymedia friends and family” were ringing in with their reports. Indymedia being seen as a service-provider, not as dependent on everyone's contributions.
- media centre was very effectively blockaded
- lots of little blockades
- very strong mass walk-out on the Thursday morning (9am)– 2-3000 people - amazingly all kept together trekking for hours through fields and forests.
- Blockade on West gate – allowed to stay because there were other gates open, way for the cops to keep an eye on us, keep us from causing trouble elsewhere. Reinforcements were brought in when the mass moved along the fence. By then they had to use the ferry ports to get people in.
- At the other gate – the middle gate – those who went there were charged and tear-gassed.
- People were unable to get to the town Vorderborhagen at all.
- Very upsetting that there were some on the camp telling people not to get involved in the mass walk-out because it was 'just about killing cops'.
- in Berlin the biggest group was about 200 people but were outnumbered by the cops. Had a Reclaim the Street party – was fun apparently.
- difficult – perhaps impossible - to get the same people to do both rural blockades and urban actions – too tired, and logistics of transporting that many people from the fields to the city.
- City action could have been framed as another type of blockade – blockade of the circulation of capital and police forces. Could use local city issues.
- Could have done the two things simultaneously, but not involving the same people.
- lots of problems (didn't really go into in this meeting) – except to say 'they would block people who broke their guidelines before blocking the roads? wtf?'
- but were amazingly organised
- there was a split! One group left to go to the other gate.
- stupid young inexperienced people trying to fight the cops at the camp – vvv bad
Flash Radio/ other media
- worked well that they'd organised all their stuff before and so weren't relying on others. Where they were relying on others (e.g. for power supply) problems occurred.
- media bus had solar power so less power cut-out issues
- Indymedia tent at Reddelich not up to previous standards!
- Not enough people to use the IMC in Rostock near the harbour (not the Evershagen one)
- began 2 years ago
- but seemed to die down after a bit
- but didn't feel like internationals were involved in the organising
- felt like about 70% German, 30% internationals there – good work! And broad range of nationalities present.
there is a bit of confusion here about the blockades. There were 3 main gates, known as the North, East and West.
The North and East gates were 'taken' by the block g8 groups, one leaving from Rostok (to the North gate), one from Reddilick (to the East gate). These were each about 4000-5000 people strong, using the 5-finger technique, to avoid the cops to get there. At these gates the blockade were reasonably unviolent, and held from weds 11 am to Fri 11 am, when they voluntarily disbanded, without traffic going in or out. It was the West gate, originally to be taken by the third camp, known as Camp 'W' (a beautiful very 'eco' camp, but far from everyone/evferything else). This was where all the 'trouble' was, 9 watercannons, tear gas etc., including significant injuries to protesters. There best explanation of police taktics to me was an attempt to keep this exit as a possible last option emergency EXIT from Heilingendam, because the other two gates were totally blockaded. Traffic was not going in by that gate either.
The main issue with the UK-based people seemed to be that they were totally dismissive of block-g8 (as this write-up suggests) - so missed out totally on the mosting interesting, and successful part of the summit. Without understanding block-g8 or the Interventionist Left then you can hardly understand why this past g8 was so successful compared to the Scotland g8.
Block G8 problems
1. Block G8 was a very hierarchical organisation. In the meetings I went to, all the details of the action were being organised by "action counsels" and seemed very unaccountable and inaccessible unless you were prepared to go along and be cannon fodder for a central organising committee.
2. A strict adherence to non violence guidelines put a lot of people off.
3. This became an even bigger diversion when the Block G8 people started putting out statements condeming the Black Bloc as fascists and stating they would ask the police to step in and arrest anyone who they thought were violent or Black Bloc. Any group displaying such lack of solidarity should be dismissed.
a reply on block-g8
Sure there was a secret group keeping some aspects of the 'plan' secret (leaving time, exact location of destination, route). This does not mean people are cannon-fodder. All those 'glory days' of Reclaim the Streets, J18 etc., all had 'a plan' which 99.9% of people didn't know. They weren't cannon-fodder. This wasnt about heirarchy. It was about acheiving objectives. Sometimes everything cant be in the open. Its quite direspectful of those who put huge effort and time into organising things (which are usually illegal, and enormously stressful, and done at great potential person cost). I was really happy that some people had thought beforehand extremely carefully about how to get us from Camp to blockade in a coordinated way to no traffic got in or out of the entire g8 area for the duration of the summit. How could it have happened otherwise??
Yes, post-Saturday and the mini-riot (which is what it was, indymedia/corporate media hyperbole aside), this caused the coalition to nearly break and the blockades not happen. There was panic and fear, of the police and of voilent demonstrations generally. This was understandable. But the nervousness allround, meant people reverted 'to type', 'I'm an anarchist, fuck block-g8', 'I'm a pascifist', 'I'm hear to protest the g8, not fight police', 'I'm here to kill cops, thats what its about'. I heard all of this personally, all in one 'barrio' on one day! The climate was less 'all-together-against-the-g8'. People were turning against each other. Yet, the turnaround was amazing - because of the success of the blockades - and their fluidity and diversity. If you wanted a ruck - find the blockade where it was happening and contribute. If you wanted to keep a more tranquil blockade going overnight - you could find out where to go. Diversity and working together was again OK.
Our affinity group, succesfully played a part, with other organised and collective-minded affinity groups to totally override the 'action committee' on our g8-blockade and get spokes meeting happening in a truely directly democratic way. We utilised their organisation as 'the plan' and then made sure that the people on the blockade, once we were there, took control of events, by concensus (including the action committee as just one affinity group of many). But this was only possible by initial engagement with the process and a bit of trust all-round.