I am a wild party

Seen at the G8 protests in Rostock, Germany:

I am an armed uprising

His sign reads “I am an armed uprising”–clearly a bitterly ironic statement in light of the fake popgun he’s carrying. Nevertheless, the water cannons did not discriminate.

According to Der Spiegel, an outbreak of violence at the fringes of an otherwise peaceful demo spoiled it for those who had something to say besides just “fuck you”:

“Get the hell out of here, get lost,” shouts the young woman, beside herself with rage. In the next moment she gets pulled along with the crowd, as a police unit in heavy armor pushes them back at a running pace. Then the officials find themselves in a hail of stones, bottles and chunks of wood again, as they withdraw.

The young woman’s anger is directed not only at the police, but at some of her own people. Those in black, some disguised with caps, sunglasses and scarves, who want to protest at the G8 summit with violence, show it right from the start. […]

“The autonomous ones bust everything in their path up into tiny pieces,” a police spokesman said later, visibly struggling to keep his composure. On the street “Am Strande”, stones, bottles and firebombs rain down on the security forces. Militants turn cars over, set them on fire. Windows smash, the wind blows thick smoke and tear gas through the streets. Dozens of injured people need treatment; some, heavily wounded, are sent to hospital.

That the police hit back hard, many observers on the sidelines found just as unnecessary. “They ran down from over there like crazy, straight at us,” said an older gentleman with a white beard. He is beside himself over this scene. In any case, this seems to be the exact result the “autonomous ones” wanted.

In the morning, at the main train station, it looked to be a very peaceful day ahead. An American protest-singer with a wild voice sang out against his president onstage, while the column of marchers, one of two, slowly formed up below. The spectrum of groups preparing to protest against next week’s summit is colorful and international: leftist hedonists from Berlin, raucous anti-globalizationists from Greece, union representatives from Brazil–the protest is as chaotic as it is amicable.

Even the few recognizable representatives of the police had aligned themselves with it. “We wanted it to be like a folk festival,” said one press spokesman. Accompanied by samba music, the procession got going around 1 pm as the sun tried to poke through an overcast Baltic sky. Accompanied by music groups, the demonstrators paraded through the city centre, “very calmly”, as police spokesman Manfred Etzel later remarked. A horde of zany anti-globalization clowns led the way, and some police officers even let them paint their faces.

Only twice did violence flash up: Once in front of the Radisson Hotel, where some of the American summit delegation were supposed to be staying, some stones flew out from the so-called “black bloc” towards police and their buses. The same in front of a bank building.

A foretaste, apparently.

Why it came to a head at the harbor, is still unknown early this evening. The police presumably took a masked man prisoner–the provocateur, they say. Maybe it was only a convenient excuse. Christian Ströbele, protest fixture and fractional vice-president for the Greens in the Bundestag, is kneading something in his hands as he says: “I hope peace outweighs everything else in the next few days.”

“Ah don’ rightly know what’s goin’ on here,” says a policeman from Berlin from under his heavy helmet. The people aren’t really all that organized, he says. The representatives are drawn from several different German states, and that could be an explanation.

In fact, by evening it’s incomprehensible to many bystanders as to why the police keep advancing in small groups against certain demonstrators. That’s when they start to throw the tear gas, as spokesman Manfred Etzel determined at 4:30 pm.

“We want maximum de-escalation today,” explained the special division leader, police superintendent Heinz Kiefer, at the beginning of the demonstration. Some hours later, the ground at the harbor is strewn with loose cobblestones, and an unknown number of demonstrators and at least two policeman are injured.

Translation mine. (Don’t you love it that I’m a multilingual blogger, who can unscramble six languages, not counting all the dead ones I learned at university?)

The front page at Der Spiegel now puts the injury count at 300, and that’s just the cops.

Meanwhile, in Schwerin (another east-German city), it looks as though the anti-globalization demos put the boots to what could have been another big riot: far-rightist thugs had planned an illegal demonstration, and a band of about 150 Antifa (anti-fascist) leftists summoned from out of town were ready for them. Luckily, though, the cops got there first. The whole thing went bust, along with several wanna-be troublemakers from the black bloc. Several smaller far-right demonstrations broke out in protest; about 140 of ’em marched past the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Police tried to stop them and got shoved aside. The police summoned reinforcements, and 13 arrests were made; after that, the demo broke up. In Lüneburg, five buses containing some 350 neo-Nazis were stopped. In all, police believe that as many as 1000 right-wingers were on their way to Schwerin. No word on where the escaped neo-Nazis got to or what they’re planning to do next, and when.

Ach, die Deutschen–aren’t they a riot?

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