From June 6th to 8th the "representatives" of eight of the most powerful states from the global north are planning to meet in Heiligendamm near Rostock in Germany. Without any legitimacy to decide about global politics they will coordinate their decisions and therefore stand for the continuation of the state the world which for the majority means hunger, misery, war, and exclusion. Despite police repression and political propaganda, the summit will face one of the biggest mobilisations ever to shut down the G8.
Day 1 (25/05/07): Berlin
We finally arrived here around midday after 8 days of hitching and spent much of our day in internet cafes trying to find somewhere to stay through CouchSurfing. Failing this, we got directions to Kopi, a massive 17 year squatted building that was damaged in WWII. The lovely people here gave us directions to an infopoint called Bethanien, another squat, where we could get help finding a place to stay. We spent the night at a (formerly squatted) free hostel a couple of miles away. Sleeping on a real mattress was amazing...
Day 2 (26/05/07): Berlin
...So amazing, in fact, that we couldn't resist staying here longer. We cooked for a few people and in the process missed out on a free festival and an education demo. The weather was crap anyway.
Day 3 (27/05/07): Berlin
The last couple of days we've met quite a few people from different corners of the world (most of them speak English, luckily) and some of these have vanished today for an indymedia meeting in Rostock and the ASia Europe Meeting in Hamburg. This is being touted as the "warm up" for both police and activists going to the G8 and will be the biggest ever police operation in Hamburg's history, as well as an indicator of the possible scale of the actions of 6th-8th June. Tonight there's a punk gig at Kopi and if my feet can manage the walk we'll be hoping to go and meet some more people there.
Day 4 (28/05/07): Berlin-Hamburg
Today we hitched to Hamburg with the vague hope that we would make it to the ASEM demo. Unfortunately we didn't do too well and missed several hours of marching. Oh no. The pictures are impressive. 5000 mostly black-clad activists and 5000 cops, but I can't say my sore feet minded missing out on all that walking. Apparently we also missed some cop cars being smashed and, rumour has it, many cops being hospitalised from their own tear gas (police are looking for someone who injured 170 cops).
When we headed to the Rote Flora, where we hoped the infopoint system would find us a place to stay, we found it surrounded by some of the crazy, military style cops that I believe are unique to hamburg. After an hour we gave up and found a place through another centre, called the B5.
Day 5 (29/05/07): Hamburg
This evening, around 8pm, hundreds of activists waited outside the Rote Flora for a demonstration against the police repression of the day before. 500 police turned up, proceeded to violently restrained two people on the ground simply for standing slightly in the road and stood around threateningly. Around 300+ people marched through Hamburg, to the place the remaining arrestees were being held, and back to the Rote Flora with, I think, 3 arrests in total.
Day 6 (30/05/07): Hamburg
Today there was an artsy demo in Hamburg. The local left radio station broadcast, in English, some "exercises"; movements, for people listening on their personal stereos to act out. In theory the city centre was overrun with strange acting people in a similar fashion to events that have been held in the UK. I'm yet to find a report of the event, however.
Day 7 (31/05/07): Hamburg-Rostock
We hitched to Rostock, got here late, bumped into a few English speakers heading the same way as us and found the campsite just in time to put up a tent in the dark. Lots of hippy/student activist types here trying to get petitions signed etc. so I'm looking forward to heading to another camp where I hope to find more smelly punks who are on the same wavelength as me. I've heard a rumour that one of the other camps might soon be invaded by a camera-mounted crane so I hope they manage to do something about that.
Day 8 (01/06/07): Rostock
There's a pool of bikes (rickety, old and reasonably dangerous to ride) set aside for people to borrow at the camps and at Rostock convergence centre. Today we cycled to the convergence centre on some of these bikes.
I should probably mention at some point, and now seems as good a time as any, that the police here are always making sure you're aware of their presence - they're constantly moving back and forth in large convoys of vehicles; supermarkets generally have at least one police car parked outside and the main routes between the convergence centre and the camp have regular groups of several police cars which will occasionally stop and search and check ID (ID is required to be carried by law here).
So after passing many police cars we eventually got to the convergence centre, talked to a few people we've met over the last week and posted my last update. Other than this we mostly prepared ourselves for the big day tomorrow.
Day 9 (02/06/07): Rostock
Today's schedule - the official plan, approved by the police I assume - had two starting points, both 11am, and therefore two sets of opening speeches from 12-1pm before anyone could even get moving. We, like many others, figured we'd just get there for 1pm. On the way we bumped into several people heading from boring speeches towards the point where the two marches were due to meet.
We tagged along and eventually we walked straight into a huge and colourful procession making its way down a camera-lined main road through the city centre. A largely uneventful march (except for when the black bloc found a solitary cop car and proceeded to smash it up) led tens of thousands of people to a gig at the harbour. Here the police charged the protesters in an attempt to aggravate the recently arrived black bloc. Eventually the black bloc dispersed into the crowd and it seemed like any aggression was unlikely from either side from now on.
Around 6pm, with rubbish music and some stupid hippies telling me off just for wearing black clothes, we gave up trying to find veggie food that didn't require a half hour wait and went back to the camp. After we left apparently the police got violent again, for no reason apparently, and attacked a crowd (largely made up of peace activists, many with children) with water cannons and tear gas. From what I can gather the black bloc reformed and some built burning barricades before eventually the police finally listened to a united crowd and concert organisers telling them to go away.
Day 10 (03/06/07): Rostock
Today was one of those days of catching up on the happenings of the day before and bumping into lots of English friends. Also the Lidl about 500 metres down the road from the camp decided to break with German tradition and open this Sunday (locals suggested it must be the first Sunday opening supermarket in Rostock's history) due to the potential sales to thousands of customers from the camp, which was possibly at its most full with many people staying just for the weekend.
As we approached Lidl we saw people literally running out with clinking rucksacks and bread in their jumpers. Once inside, with hundreds of people queuing and people openly stuffing their bags with beer and groceries, it was funny to see how the two security guards could do nothing about the shoplifting.
Day 11 (04/06/07): Rostock-Reddelich Camp
Today we stocked up on food and hitched to Reddelich with relative ease. We mostly just enjoyed a relaxed day and met up with some familiar faces. We talked a lot about the upcoming actions and our general lack of knowledge about them.
Day 12 (05/06/07): Reddelich Camp
Now seemed as good a time as any to get into an affinity group and we ended up with some mostly Leeds-based people. A plan of being a mobile and therefore difficult to arrest affinity group eventually led us to the idea of tagging along with Block G8 and seeing what happened. If they'd stop having gigs here maybe we could get enough sleep one night but whoever organises such things doesn`t seem to get it - although tonight's ended slightly earlier and beer was banned.
Day 13 (06/06/07): Reddelich Camp
This morning our affinity group joined the Block G8 "five finger" movement to the east gate. We were in the blue finger, which simply required us to follow a blue flag wherever it went. After the five fingers left the camp they split off from each other at various points and when the blue finger eventually met a police road block... we turned left, into the woods. Police in bulky riot padding were in no way interested in following at least 1,000 people into the woods, so after a couple of hours of walking and one halfway meet up with the other four fingers we arrived on a road near many police officers. Within 10 minutes I think 2 or 3 of the fingers were there and gradually the whole Block G8 march of probably more than 5,000 people found its way to the same small stretch of the road, completely blocking the main land entrance to Heiligendamm.
The day was uneventful, due to the massive success of the blockade, except for occasional rumours of the happenings at the other entrances. We discovered that in the middle of the previous night a third gate had been created, presumably to ease the pressure on the police to keep the other gates clear. The second and third gates were successfully blockaded through some clever and more autonomous actions by groups of varying sizes. Stories reached us of police cars being trapped between barricades and 60 litres of vegetable oil being used to render the third entrance unusable. The combined tactics were a huge success - quick drying concrete and barricades made from trees meant fire engines took a long time to get to the oily roads. Barricades were quickly replaced as soon as they were dismantled by masked up activists hiding in the woods.
After some complicated decision making processes, which the Block G8 leadership attempted to manipulate, the people at the East gate decided, against Block G8s advice, to stay the night. It is estimated that 2,000 people slept in the road and held the blockade all night.
Day 14 (07/06/07): Reddelich Camp
After we left our affinity group (we had nothing warm enough to stay there the night) we came back to the camp, got a few hours' sleep and returned this morning with water and food supplies for the group. Many other people came today and although probably not as many people were there as the day before, the police were clearly unable or unwilling to even attempt to move so many people.
Since things were going so well, our affinity group left the blockade to go for a wander along the fence. We saw tanks and watercannons being deployed to clear fields full of activists around the middle gate (the third gate, which doesn't really have proper roads leading to it). As we passed through, many people were still building barricades and running away.
After lots of hassle from police we eventually decided to head back to the camp and enjoy some 50p beers from a bakery (!?) on the way. Some of us got very drunk tonight.
Day 15 (08/06/07): Reddelich Camp-leaving
There's another demo today but we're not going as it just seems more like a pat on the back for everyone involved. There's rumours of actions many kilometres away but the rumours change from day to day so we'll just listen out for news of what's happened. Generally, here at camp Reddelich, people are very contented. Other than the helicopters and boats, access to Heiligendamm was blockaded for most of the 3 days. Amongst smaller happenings of the summit my favourite story is the Russian delegates.
Today, after sending this, we're leaving Reddelich to continue our travels. If anything exciting happens, other than sunbathing, finding free food and meeting lots of people, we'll let you know.