From peaceful protest to escalating tension
Peaceful Protest and Police in Rostock. Credit: Craig Owen / Oxfam International. Credit: Craig Owen / Oxfam International.
I have just been on the march all day with everyone else from Oxfam and other organisations like Jubilee Germany. It was very peaceful up to the last minute, with grannies and kids in pushchairs, and a great atmosphere. People are angry it is true – angry with the G8 for not delivering what they have promised, but the vast majority are here to show their anger through peaceful demonstration. Sadly towards the end of the march, a small group of relatively young protesters all dressed in black began to provoke the police, throwing things and generally trying to start a fight. Within minutes there were literally hundreds of riot police surrounding the group, and sporadic bursts of violence went on for about an hour. From where I was, it certainly looked to me that by over-reacting the police really escalated the tension. It got pretty scary for a while!
Out there now things seemed to be more or less calming down, but the atmosphere is very tense and it could easily flare up again before the night is out. It is a real shame this had to happen. As I said there is real anger here, about the G8 failure to tackle global poverty and climate chaos, but it is sad when a big and peaceful protest like this is mired by violence.
Max Lawson is Senior Policy Adviser on Essential Services in Oxfam GB.