Clashes at Heiligendamm Ahead of Summit: Police Use Water Cannon on Anti-G-8 Protesters
Around 10,000 protesters have broken into the no-demo area around the G-8 summit venue. Police used water cannon to disperse the groups. But protesters still appear to have been successful in blocking access to the Heiligendamm complex where the meeting of the Group of Eight is being held.
Protesters block an access road to Heiligendamm, where the summit of G-8 leaders began on Wednesday.
Police forces and anti-G-8 protesters had both been preparing for the encounter for months. The demonstrators were determined to get as close to the G-8 summit venue as possible, while the police were equally determined to stop them. On Wednesday, though, protesters succeeded in blocking the main access road to the summit venue, with the aim of preventing delegates and their entourages from reaching the hotel where G-8 leaders are meeting.
Earlier Wednesday, an estimated 10,000 protesters infiltrated the zone close to the Kempinski hotel where demonstrations have been strictly banned. Though none succeeded in penetrating the security fence, the protesters did manage to block terrestrial access to the summit. The railway line which is to be used to ferry journalists from the press center to the summit venue was also blocked by demonstators. Organizers said they were having to resort to a contingency plan, and planned to bring in delegates by helicopter and ferry journalists to the venue by navy launch. However there were reports that demonstrators had also blocked the journalists' boat transfer.
Nevertheless, the blockade posed few problems for the world leaders arriving on Wednesday. Most flew directly to Heiligendamm by helicopter after landing at the nearby Rostock-Laage Airport.
Police used water cannons on anti-G-8 demonstrators near the town of Bad Doberan Wednesday after they entered the no-protest zone around the summit venue. Around 10,000 demonstrators entered the zone on Wednesday morning, violating a ban on protests in the area around the summit. They had avoided police roadblocks by simply walking through fields and woods.
According to police spokesman Lüdger Behrens, officers "used water cannons twice after demonstrators bombarded police with stones." He said the protesters were violating a ban on demonstrations in the area and might be detained.
The protesters were trying to make their way to a 12-kilometer-long security fence around the summit venue at Heiligendamm. Police said that they forced back thousands of protesters who had got within 20 meters of the fence. Officers then marked off a police line which protesters were not allowed to cross. The line was accepted and the protests remained peaceful, police said. One protester dressed as a clown told Reuters that the demonstrators were there "to make sure their security is tight so that the eight dangerous men (sic) inside are not going to escape."
Police said they were bringing in reinforcements by helicopter. Eight officers were reported to have been injured in the clashes with demonstrators near Bad Doberan.
Police appeared to have been taken off guard by the protesters' tactics. The unexpected success of the demonstrators' strategy is likely to lead to awkward questions for the police, who have already been the target of criticism this week after Saturday's riots in Rostock.
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