June 3 and 4 Rostock demonstrations

Time is flying by and already there are more events from Rostock and surroundings, but I’m back in Berlin and wanting to post my thoughts on the two other demos on Sunday and Monday… the structure of the week of protests is quite complex, with hundreds of affinity groups intersecting with an equal number of NGOs and somewhat fewer political parties. Issues that usually get balkanized and kept apart are continually put together in summits like this, one of the better aspects of the whole thing. So after the big opening anti-G8 demo, using again the slogan “Another World is Possible,” the 2nd day had a big demo against GMO agriculture and for food sovereignty and local farmers under the slogan “Resistance is Fruitful.” It was a spirited march of several thousand, very well decorated and quite mellow in terms of police response, as they only put some dozens of “anti-konflikt team” cops in windbreakers around the march. Here’s my favorite prop of the day:

One of the focal points at the G8 is their unfulfilled promises vis-a-vis Africa, and this float got right to the point:

A great rebel clown army brigade has been keeping the (groucho) marxist spirit going here too. They have been marching around mocking cops and commies alike, staging some delightful charges at lines of riot cops when appropriate. After the Fruitful march they entered a McDonalds and all got arrested there. In order to leave they had to pay 150 euro fine for the whole dozen or so of them… I imagined they were first offered multiple Supersized Big Meals as an alternative fine, but I understand they chose to pay the money to get released from McDonalds… is this the first time McDonalds has also served as a temporary jail? Won’t be the last!

These images are actually from the next day’s demo on the “Right to Movement” where the clowns were one of the few groups who kept the energy up during interminable police-imposed delays…

This is a shot of the clowns just before they charged across into the faces of heavily armed riot police, just visible to the right.

Here I am, as usual lurking near a drumming contingent. These sambistas have been a bright spot in the marches, bringing some of our favorite San Francisco spirit of good drumming…so much better than chanting or just walking along grimly…

Here’s an anti-GMO float with a sign that reads:

What it’s really all About:

1. Money
2. Money
3. Money

The June 4 demo was called “The Right to Movement” and the police turned it into an exercise in patience and attrition. The route was to be the same as the Agriculture march the day before and at the gathering point there were a lot more of us, several thousand. Before too long hundreds of heavily armored riot police had spread out in the forests surrounding us completely. As the march started it stopped. From the soundtruck came the news that the police had detected 500 protesters who had infiltrated the march and evaded their control who they were sure were going to be violent. After an hour and a half of negotiations, the march organizers and police agreed that we could proceed only if no one wore a mask, no one wore a hoody + sunglasses, or any kind of face-obscuring clothing. It’s officially illegal to hide your face in Germany during demonstrations, though that had been flaunted by 2000 black bloc’ers on Saturday.

So we finally moved a bit, only to be stopped again after a few hundred yards. Now the police insisted on lining the route of the march with riot cops 3 deep on each side. The organizers refused to proceed under those conditions, so another hour went by as they negotiated. Finally we got to go without that level of police accompaniment, though there were thousands of riot cops all around, along with giant water cannon vehicles. Here are some images:

This last image barely gives you a sense of the incredible fleets of police vans that are constantly moving around Rostock. This is the backbone of the police infantry, their 21st century horses, and at times they park them three and four rows deep, crisscrossing the road to serve as barricades.

The plight of immigrants in Germany and Fortress Europe in general, is just as bad, or worse, than in the United States. Here in Germany an immigrant is placed in a certain district, usually rural and poor, and while they await processing (which can take years) it is illegal for them to leave that district. Later, if they get legal residency status, and if they are still on welfare, it is illegal for them to leave that district UNLESS they have a job outside of it. Of course, it might be tricky to arrange a job somewhere else in a country that you are banned from visiting! The Kafka-esque nightmare of migration stands in sharp contrast to the ever-easier movement of capital, whipping to and fro in a frenzy of speculation across the planet.

Here are some more images of the “Right to Movement” march. After many stoppages and constant police harassment, it finally made it to the harbor in Rostock.

“Lager” is the name for the concentration camps that arriving immigrants are put in across Europe.

During one of the many long delays imposed by the police.

The last picture to share of the June 4 demo was this big contingent that unfurled a giant pink banner, beneath which many of them disrobed… their message was that deportation is brute (naked) force… but it was funny to see in the midst of a sea of cops…

Today was supposed to be the blockade of the airport to prevent the various G8 leaders from arriving, though I heard Bush came early and avoided the whole thing. Should be reports on Indymedia later today.

I was hanging with Tina and Rob, doing those Indybay dispatches together. Here we are after the food march and after doing our “job”, enjoying a “Voku” meal at the Rostock Indymedia center’s “people’s kitchen”…

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