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16,000 police deployed to halt violence

London Guardian | June 5, 2007 
Patrick Barkham

A multinational coalition of protesters will today begin their bid to physically prevent world leaders from gathering at the G8 summit despite widespread criticism of violent tactics during growing demonstrations in Germany.

Water cannons, riot vans and 16,000 police officers - one per protester - last night fanned out around the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm to end the protests.

More than 1,000 people were injured on Saturday in Rostock, the nearest city, in some of the most violent protests seen in postwar Germany. The authorities are desperate to avoid a repeat of the violence that marred the 2001 G8 in Genoa, where a student was shot dead by police.

As 8,500 people yesterday marched in Rostock in favour of "global freedom of movement and equal rights" - one of a series of themed protest days in the run up to the summit's opening tomorrow - hundreds more were in camps just outside the seven miles of steel and barbed wire fencing guarding the G8 venue.

Four miles from the fence, protesters set up their own security around a 4,000-strong camp in the village of Reddelich. A wooden watchtower has been built to survey the tents and police beyond.

While the atmosphere in the camp was relaxed, with bratwurst and beer on sale, a children's playground and bands and cabaret in the evening, groups also got to work practising how to evade capture and arrest by the police.

German police, newspapers and even some protesters have voiced doubts about the violent tactics during the weekend protests but organisers insisted their aim remained to shut down the G8 and their methods would be forceful.

Police said more than 400 officers and 520 demonstrators were hurt after a peaceful rally turned violent in Rostock on Saturday night.

Officers blamed the violence on 2,000 militants known as the "black block" - black-clad hooded and masked youths who attacked police lines. Forty-nine people were arrested yesterday.

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