Sunday, June 3, 2007

German Protests Turn To Riots, Nearly A Thousand Reported Injured

Germany's worst riots in decades erupted on Saturday, leaving almost a thousand people injured ... A spokesman for the security forces said on Sunday that approximately 430 police officers were injured ... Organisers of Saturday's rally said on Sunday that around 520 protesters had been injured ... 125 arrests were made, police said.
This according to Hugh Williamson, reporting from Rostock Germany for the Financial Times:
The clashes, in which protesters threw stones and set cars alight, occurred after a largely peaceful march through Rostock by tens of thousands of anti-globalisation protesters. Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowds, but also appeared to provoke the protesters by hitting protesters not directly involved in the violence.
Note well: This is the Financial Times, not normally known as an anti-globalisation rag, saying the "police appeared to provoke the protesters".
Organisers apologised to the police for the violence and distanced themselves from the estimated 2000 militant activists involved.
Some or all of the so-called "militant activists" may well have been affiliated with the German police.

What? Tin-foil hat? Bah! It happens all the time. How else do large peaceful protests suddenly turn violent?

The organisers also criticised the police for using heavy-handed tactics, and for departing from their pledge ahead of the demonstration to remain in the background during the march and rally.

Many protesters from anti-poverty and environmental groups were shocked to see packs of police charge through crowds to pick out alleged troublemakers. Police were also seen kicking and hitting protesters with truncheons.
The enmity between German citizens and police has been brewing for quite a while.
Campaign groups criticised police raids last month on dozens of anti-globalisation organisations.

Strains increased further last week when a court ruled that protesters were banned from going within five kilometres of Heiligendamm.
Heiligendamm, site of the G8 summit which begins Wednesday, is a luxury resort 20km west of Rostock.

That's the overview: for the details we turn to NYC's Indymedia for a complete timeline of yesterday's events:
12:30: The demo coordination group said that all buses carrying protesters have arrived in Rostock without any police controls.

13:15: The big demo has started to march from the Rostock central train station.

13:45: Demonstrators at the Rostock central station are still preparing to march and will continue to do so for at least another 20 minutes. There are about 40 big puppets and two samba bands at the front of the march. A black bloc of several thousand people are on the march too. It was announced from the rally stage a while ago that Nazis are heading towards Rostock but not to worry.

15:00: Confrontations have kicked off on the Rostock march as it arrived in Am Strande street by the Harbour, where the concert is supposed to be held. Blocs of riot police rushed into the crowd for no apparent reason and split the mass into two parts, hitting people randomly. Some demonstrators reacted back by throwing stones, bottles and sticks. At least 5 injuries and over 10 arrests have been witnessed so far.

15:10: A group of 40-50 riot cops, who had charged into the demonstrators, were surrounded by people putting their hands up peacefully, while pushing towards them, until they drove them out of the crowd, but then the cops turned around and started hitting with their batons again. This hands-up pushing was repeated again a while later.

15:20: An ambulance was seen taking someone with injuries. Several injuries have been reported but no details yet. It is not only the so-called Black Bloc that is being attacked but also other 'normal' protesters.

15:30: Police have retreated to the edge of the harbour along the trees line, but are still charging into the crowd every now and then on that side of the demo. Several more people have been arrested and more injuries.

15:40: The situation seems to be calming down a little. There was an announcement from the stage that the music will be stopped until the police retreat and police have allegedly said they will.

16:10: Riot police units have charged into the crowd near the stage again and are now surrounded by people. Bottles and stones are being thrown at them.

16:15: Some 20 cops were seen at the Bramow train station, near Camp Rostock, and more police cars driving in that direction, presumably to conduct controls or arrest demonstrators coming back from the Rostock demo.

16:40: Police are withdrawing from the harbour area and water cannons are being taken away too.

17:30: Snatch squads in black gear with dogs were seen in Rostock shopping centre following a group of demonstrators who dispersed into the inner city. A 'check point' and stop-and-searches on Rosa Luxemburg St. and other main streets.

17:30: A water cannon and tear gas are being used by cops against the remaining demonstrators at the only exit from the rally area, so people are not able to leave although the speeches and music have stopped.

17:45: The demo organisers say some 80.000 people took part in the international demo today.

18:00: Police are using 5 water cannons in the festival area, and three additional ones in the streets, to extinguish on a burning car and burning barricades (made of garbage containers). A bigger group of people is being pushed away in the direction of the Speicher. The concert on the stage goes on with an audience of several thousands.

18:05: The concert has stopped.

18:15: The situation calms down somewhat. There are bigger groups of people in front of the stage and towards the Speicher. In between, police and water cannons. All roads to the city centre are closed in both directions. Polices forces from several federal states as well as the federal police are involved.

18:25: A cloud of tear gas could still be seen in the harbour area. Two water cannons are still there but not in action. Snatch squads are trying to single out people from the crowd or leaving groups to arrest them. Accesses and exits from the harbour area are only from the front and back, but not the lanes to the city centre any more.

18:40: The concert resumes. A lot of arrests and water cannons in action.

18:45: The concert is interrupted again.

19:20: Irie Révoltés are playing now. People are dancing the police out of the place.

19:35: The concert organisers want to continue with the concert anyway. The situation is calm now.

20:00: According to the Legal Teams, at least 100 were detained on the Rostock demo today.

20:45: Camp Rostock: About 200 people from Camp Rostock wanted to go and hold a solidarity protest at the prison where the people who were arrested earlier today are held. However, they were confronted with police and water cannons a few hundred meters outside the camp.

21:15: Camp Rostock: About 30-40 cops, 4 or 5 water cannons and one sweeping tank outside the camp, but no violent confrontations at the moment.

21:50: Camp Rostock: Police are said to be retreating now.
For more details and photos, click here.