||G8 Thug Force: The Global Model
June 10, 2004
Police from across the US to Scotland have flown out to the G8 summit to watch the police in riot gear prepare body bags, intimidate protesters and drive military vehicles down the street.
Since the G8 has admitted that it is seeking to create a "World peacekeeping force," we know you all feel a lot safer knowing that no matter where you are the loving police in black ski masks will be out patrolling the streets keeping you safe from exercising your right to free speech...
Scots police travel to America to study G8 security
LUCY ADAMS, Home Affairs Correspondent
June 09 2004
|A TEAM of senior Scottish police officers has flown out to the G8 summit in the US to study the massive security operation before next summer's meeting in Gleneagles.
Chief superintendent Brian Powrie, the Tayside Police officer in charge of provisional planning for next year's event, and a chief inspector, have flown out to Sea Island, Georgia, despite the fact the UK location has not yet been officially announced.
The summit of world leaders, which began yesterday on the US island, focused on the future of Iraq, plans to fight famine in the Horn of Africa, the eradication of polio and development of an HIV vaccine.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 federal, state and local officers were on duty yesterday in Sea Island, the adjoining St Simons Island, the nearby city of Brunswick on the mainland, and in Savannah, 80 miles north. Security was heightened because of concerns that al Qaeda might target the event.
Coastguard boats with mounted machine guns were patrolling the Savannah River between the summit's media centre on Hutchinson Island and the city's riverfront. A long, parallel set of 7ft, metal-mesh fences protected the only road that leads to the island, where federal agents stood guard.
The security operation included concrete barriers, metal fencing, checkpoints around key buildings and routes and patrol boats armed with machine guns.
It was hoped that holding the summit on an island would facilitate security services operations and reduce the number of anti-capitalist protesters.
The officers from Tayside are thought to have flown out as part of the Scottish planning operation.
Although the UK venue has not yet been officially announced, Tony Blair, the prime minister, is expected to confirm Gleneagles tomorrow.
Police in Scotland have predicted that up to 9000 officers may be required to secure the area around the Gleneagles Hotel and nearby cities. Anti-capitalist groups are already planning protests.
Some 25,000 police and military personnel were deployed by France and Switzerland to counter protesters and the risk of terrorism at the meeting in Evian in June 2002. All eight Scottish police forces are expected to cancel annual leave for most of June because of concerns about the level of security required for the summit at Gleneagles.
Tayside and Lothian and Borders police forces have already informed staff that it will not be possible to book holidays during the two-week period in 2005.
A source in Scotland said: "Officers from Tayside have gone out to look at the security operation in the States.
"The reality is that the annual leave will be cancelled for officers across Scotland once this is officially announced.
"Historically the summit has been a massive resourcing issue for the police and the question is how we are going to handle it. Tayside are going to ask for mutual aid from every single force in Scotland and even then we don't know if we have got enough officers. We are going to have to do a lot of additional training."
A spokesman for Tayside Police said he could neither confirm nor deny media reports about G8 because no official announcement had been made.
Boston, N.Y. Police Take Notes on G-8
By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press Writer
BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Police from New York City and Boston have taken note of the tiny number of protesters who showed up at the G-8 summit here — and they're taking notes.
The police officials are in Georgia monitoring the tight, omnipresent security surrounding the Group of Eight summit to see what they can learn for this summer's national political conventions.
"I liken this to sports — if you're a pro team and you're going to play a big game, you want to look at the game film," said Robert O'Toole, commander of the Boston Police Department's special operations division.
It's not clear how easily those lessons can be adapted to July's Democratic convention in Boston or August's Republican convention in New York.
Sea Island, where the G-8 leaders are meeting, is not exactly The Big Apple or The Hub. It's a remote barrier island, easily sequestered from the mainland.
Still, activists fear that the massive security presence surrounding the summit will be a model for future events.
The fewer than 300 activists protesting against globalization and the war in Iraq ( news - web sites ) were far outnumbered by a security force of 20,000. On Wednesday, a few minor shoving matches took place, but overall, the summit has been peaceful, unlike the violent protests that marred the 2001 summit in Genoa, Italy.
Everywhere protesters went, they were joined by officers and soldiers, often with military helicopters overhead and sometimes with gunboats in the background.
Security personnel — some with military Humvees — were stationed along roads. Caravans of state troopers drove around from morning to night with their lights on and sirens blaring.
"These scare tactics are exactly what we're seeing in Boston right now," said Carolyn Toll Oppenheim, a protester from Holyoke, Mass., who came to take notes for events planned later in Boston.
At a community college in Brunswick, a home base for protesters that is miles from Sea Island, sessions on world debt relief and other topics turned into gripe sessions about police tactics designed to stymie protests.
From the start, protesters complain, they've been told they're not welcome near the summit and could be in danger if they speak up too loudly.
"People didn't come down here for fear they'd be shot with a rubber bullet just for standing on the side of the street," said protest organizer Carol Bass of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition.
Brunswick officials copied a 2003 ordinance from Augusta, Ga., which required permits for any public gatherings of more than five people. That ordinance was passed in fear of wide-scale protests at Augusta National Golf Club at last year's Masters golf tournament because of the club's all-male membership.
Augusta's law was thrown out in April by a federal appeals court in Atlanta, but that was too late for G-8 protesters to challenge similar laws near the summit.
Finding a place to sleep in Georgia was also difficult. Most hotel rooms were gobbled up by police and other officials as soon as the summit was announced. Protesters complained that even campground operators were scared off by word from police that protesters would trash their properties.
"Look, coming to these events takes time and money," said Lisa Fithian, a protester from Austin, Texas. "People want to know before they take off work and travel somewhere, 'Am I going to have a place to stay? Am I going to be safe?'"
The final straw, protesters said, was the May announcement by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue that all coastal counties would be under a state of emergency during the summit, giving police broader powers to arrest people and disperse crowds.
For the protesters, the focus now is regrouping for what they hope can still be a summer of dissent.
"It's on us now to say, 'We won't be intimidated. We're people, and we have a right to say these things,'" said Naomi Archer of the Save Our Civil Liberties Campaign.
Associated Press Writer Doug Gross contributed to this report.
G8 seeks to help create world peacekeeping force
The Group of Eight (G8) industrial nations intends to help create a global peacekeeping force of more than 50,000 people over the next five to six years, senior US officials have said.
Officials said the initiative grew out of African requests for assistance in ending the wars that plague the continent.
"The centerpiece of this initiative will be a pledge by the G8 countries to train a certain number, we hope well in excess of 50,000 peacekeepers around the world, but beginning in Africa, over the next five or six years," said one of the officials, who spoke on condition that they not be identified.
They said that although the initiative would be launched in Africa, where the need was greatest, its scope was global.
"The idea is to train peacekeepers and equip them and enable them to get to where they're needed all over the world," one official said.
One of the officials said Italy was offering the use of a training center.
The Bush administration would seek $US660 million from Congress to spend over the next five years for training and equipment, the US officials said.
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