Despite the 16,000 police and 1,000 troops, the biggest security operation on mainland Germany since the Second World War failed to stop the G8 being blockaded by thousands of protesters intent on causing maximum disruption to the summit.
Joining one of the Wednesday morning actions from a nearby protest camp the level of organisation and diversity of the participants was immediately apparent. Reds, greens, autonomists, peaceniks and trade unionists were working together along a common agreed consensus that was repeated several times over the megaphone in three different languages: “We will not be violent no matter what the provocation. We will not let them stop us!”
In front of me a woman from Oaxaca in Mexico was recounting the blockades that paralysed the Mexican state for months last year to young members of the IG Metall industrial trade union. “There were too many of us for them to stop the actions, even when they sent in the paramilitaries with live ammunition.” There was certainly a wealth of experience to tap into here. The contingent also included trained volunteer medics and activists carrying vital supplies like water and basic food rations.
About half an hour down the road towards Heiligendammm the first line of riot police appeared with shields and batons. Immediately the 3,000 strong action flowed into the woods to avoid them. As the police were unwilling to follow we had regained the advantage. The densely forested areas around Heiligendamm were ideal for moving large numbers of people without attracting the prying eyes of the helicopters above and police in vehicles at ground level. When we did cross roads barricades of fallen trees were erected to slow down any police vans that might be shadowing us.
Finally we broke cover near the southeast gate and thousands of people streamed across the fields to the main road. The police were overwhelmed and before long the road was blockaded and there was no access to the G8 from here. Around 1,000 people agreed agree to stay over night and hold the road. We heard that a few miles away 600 were sleeping rough to defend the equally successful north gate blockade.
The following morning we followed a different action to the west gate. The police again quickly lost the game of cat and mouse, as the woods became the preferred route to the summit. This time the objective was better defended.
Water cannons opened up on the 2,000 strong crowd as soon as it came within range. Portable barriers appeared and the crowd continued their advance until they were at the Police lines. Unable to use their cannons without hitting their own officers the Police started baton charging the protesters to try and force them back. Their arms linked to repel the assault they refused to budge or respond with violence.
Nearby an Indymedia cameraman was pepper sprayed for filming the police beating a protester. Two autonomists broke free from the advancing throng to run him down to waiting medics where he was treated for 30 minutes until he could see again. Later that evening his footage was used by More 4 news to prove that the police commander was lying through his teeth about the operation when questioned by the media. Although unable to reach the road the blockade was a total success – as the police rendered the road impassable by filling it with their officers and vehicles. West gate closed.