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G8 Protests

Lucky enough to get time off to head to the G8? Natasha Grzincic and Stuart Hodkinson bring you Red Pepper's indispensable guide to resisting world leaders and staying alive in Scotland

July 1, 2005
5 min read

Before you set off

Come prepared for all-weather camping. Pack a sleeping bag, tent, waterproofs, good shoes, insect repellent for the Scottish midges and above all your toothbrush – activist breath can be grim after several days of cider-soaked protesting. Familiarise yourself with a map of Scotland and our G8 Bulletin Board, essential travel companions. Travel with pals so you have a ready-made affinity group. Billy no mates? Then cling on to someone who can vouch for your whereabouts at all times. Don’t get isolated – exchange mobile numbers.

Once you’re in Scotland

Buy an A-Z and head to a convergence centre (see below). There you’ll find the essential info-point with alternative accommodation and protest news, like-minded souls and a cheap veggie bite from the activist-run kitchen. Most centres will probably close overnight but 24-hour info-points should be on hand for lost insomniacs.

Accommodation

Direct action-types should come to the rural, self-organised eco-village near Stirling shared by People & Planet and Dissent! groups. Edinburgh council will also provide camping space behind a Gleneagles-style fence (complete with security guards) for up to 15,000 people in Hunter’s Hall Park in the Niddrie estate. Places will be allocated and there could be a £10 daily charge so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Beware: official accommodation at past summits has been victim to police raids (tell-tale signs: security cameras, easy access for large people-carrying vehicles, hot showers).

Two, three, many mobilisations

There are three main mobilisations for the G8. Make Poverty History’s (MPH) reformist band of celebrities, NGOs, churches and the Treasury uses the magic power of white wristbands to make imperialist warmongers be nicer to the poor. Then there’s the Scottish-based G8Alternatives group, bringing together the Scottish Socialist Party with trade union branches, local NGOs and, of course, the irrepressible Socialist Workers Party in various guises. Finally, the leaderless Dissent! network of autonomous groups and individuals will oppose the G8 with direct action and a million websites.

The protests

There’ll be something for everyone in Scotland – literally. For those looking for safe, clean, family fun, check out the MPH stewarded march on 2 July in Edinburgh. This is not a protest; it’s a ‘welcome walk for the G8’. You’re asked to wear white T-shirts and wristbands to form a 100,000-strong human white band around Edinburgh city centre. Rumours persist that a ‘multicolour T-shirt’ bloc will seek to radicalise MPH’s message. For some light intellectual relief in between the melÈes, head to the growing number of counter-summits on 3 July (see G8 Bulletin Board).

Any unsanctioned action, no matter how fluffy it is, runs the risk of police confrontation and arrest. For those carrying wire cutters intent on penetrating the militarised ‘red zone’ of Gleneagles with its 12-foot high steel fence, police crackdown is obviously so unlikely. There’s even talk of a ten-mile radius of checkpoints. So watch out, all you autonomous hillwalkers and golfers.

For the tourist in you, G8Alternatives will try to march past the Gleneagles Hotel gates to a nearby car park where a team of crack-commando paper-sellers will descend from the Ochil Hills.

The most effective way to shut down the G8 is to blockade relevant hotels, roads, airports and train stations to stop the summit’s delegates, interpreters and workers even getting to Gleneagles. Our tip: move to Glasgow where 5,000 G8 delegates are expected to rest in the city’s finest two-star hotels.

But it’s not just the G8 summit itself that will be subject to mass civil disobedience. Take part in the non-violent blockade of Faslane nuclear submarine base on 4 July (30 miles west of Glasgow), or the solidarity demo at Dungavel’s nasty asylum detention centre on 5 July (40 miles south of Glasgow, 60 miles from Edinburgh).

Be the Indymedia

Make sure the world knows what’s really going on. Budding writers and those with bloody (good) pictures, track down an Independent Media Centre (IMC) to upload your stories, or call in reports to the telephone hotline. Volunteers are needed to form media teams and help run spaces. Edinburgh IMC is at The Forest CafÈ, 3 Bristo Place. For other media points in Glasgow and elsewhere, see www.indymedia.org.uk.

Police and the law: use protection

As Genoa veterans can vouch, anti-capitalists could face a police onslaught in Scotland – they’ve even been training on bulldozers, for Christ’s sake. Know your rights, Scottish law and police powers (check out www.g8legalsupport.info). Faslane’s legal support number is 0845 458 8369. Remember, if stopped by the cops, you have the right to remain silent, and if being searched under a law, they must tell you which one. Once you’ve given them the flick, inform the G8 Legal Support Group with every detail of what happened.

If you are at the receiving end of a pepper spray attack, the friendly Street Medics (www.actionmedics.org.uk) will be on hand to patch you up, while Activist Trauma (www.activist-trauma.net) can give guidance for your emotional needs.

Latest updates

By the time you read this, everything could be out of date. For regular updates, see www.indymedia.org.uk, www.dissent.org.uk and www.redpepper.org.uk. Happy protesting and stay safe.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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