The SPIEGEL G-8 Round-Up Farmers Demand Payment For Trampled Fields, Activists Won't Cough Up

Farmers want compensation for their damaged crops, but activists don't want to pay. Meanwhile police have brought down a Greenpeace balloon that was attempting to fly over the G-8 summit venue at Heiligendamm.

Anti-G-8 activists are in trouble for trampling through farmers' fields.
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Anti-G-8 activists are in trouble for trampling through farmers' fields.

Many German farmers are sympathetic to the goals of the anti-globalization activists protesting against the G-8 in Heiligendamm. However their sympathy abruptly disappears when their livelihood is threatened. Now farmers in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are demanding to know who is going to pay for the damage caused to their crops when activists trampled through their fields earlier this week.

The protesters themselves have made it clear that they don't want to pay for the damage they caused. Lea Voigt, spokesperson for the Block G-8 campaign, defended protesters' actions Friday, saying that activists were forced to go through fields and forests after police blocked roads leading to the venue.

Voigt told the news agency AFP that the organization was "in contact with several farmers," and was taking their concerns seriously. Nevertheless, legitimate protesters should not be "presented with a bill" afterwards, she said.

The farmers' association of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where the summit is being held, announced Thursday that it would demand compensation from the state. A spokesperson said that a lot of agricultural land had been "massively affected."

"This is costing me money," farmer Peter Uplegger told SPIEGEL ONLINE Wednesday after swaths of his wheat was trampled under the feet of demonstrators. He insisted that he had nothing against the protesters as such: "But they shouldn't break laws."

In an interview with the magazine Stern, fellow farmer Johannes Lampen pleaded with activists to take the roads when they were heading back from the summit -- and not go through the fields again.

Other activists expressed their sympathy for the farmers' plight. "The trampling of the fields is regrettable, but I think there was a higher good at stake," Christoph Kleine, a spokesman and organizer of the Block G-8 campaign, told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Thursday. "What I'm more concerned about are the 30 or so cows which escaped. They aren't that easy to catch."

-- Charles Hawley and David Gordon Smith, 12 noon CET

Seasick Journalists

The trip to and from the Heiligendamm summit venue has proved a stomach-churning experience for many journalists covering the conference.

With access roads and a railway track blocked by anti-G-8 protesters, many reporters based in the resort of Kühlungsborn for the summit have had to resort to taking a ferry along the coast to attend briefings in the Heiligendamm hotel.

Either the sea in that part of the world is particularly choppy or the summit is being covered by a bunch of land-lubbers, because many of them have become seasick during the 30-minute voyage.

It could have been so much more pleasant -- the G-8 organizers had planned to transport journalists with "Molli", a little steam train linking Kühlungsborn with Heiligendamm, before the demonstrators spoiled everything.

David Crossland, 2 p.m. CET

Police Force Down Greenpeace Balloon

Police helicopters forced a Greenpeace hot air balloon to land near Heiligendamm Friday.

Police helicopters forced a Greenpeace hot air balloon to land near Heiligendamm Friday.

After their spectacular rubber dinghy stunt at the G-8 summit Thursday, Greenpeace Friday took their campaign to the air -- but were brought down to earth with a thump by the authorities.

The environmental organization attempted to fly over the summit venue at Heiligendamm in a hot air balloon, but were forced to land by police helicopters after just 10 minutes in the air. In a reference to the climate change agreement reached Thursday, the banner that the balloon was carrying bore the image of a rubber stamp saying "failed" over the Greenpeace slogan "G-8 Act Now." Both of the activists in the balloon were taken into custody by police and the balloon was confiscated.

Meanwhile Greenpeace accused the police of using excessive force during Thursday's water protest when six Greenpeace activists were injured after police rammed two of their boats. They have suggested that the police brush up their boat skills so that nobody gets hurt in the future. "We have offered the police training in using rubber dinghies and how you can push away boats without endangering human lives," said Karsten Smid from Greenpeace. The six casualties have in the meantime been released from hospital.

-- David Gordon Smith, 11:00 a.m. CET


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