Leaders Meet at G8 Sessions Amid Large Protests
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
In this segment of the program: the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. We'll hear from inside the meeting in just a minute. But we're going to begin outside, where thousands of protesters gathered today. They demonstrated for more aid for Africa, against war and against the G8 itself. NPR's Anthony Kuhn sent this report from the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
(Soundbite of music; crowd noise)
ANTHONY KUHN reporting:
From church groups and trade unions to anarchists and agitators, campaigners of many different stripes have descended on Scotland for the G8. While some want to eliminate poverty and war, others want to eliminate the G8. Local media reported that anarchists damaged cars and attacked one Burger King outlet outside of Edinburgh, while others blocked roads to Gleneagles. Police Inspector Derek Reith said this affected planning for today's march.
Mr. DEREK REITH (Scottish Police Inspector): There were some people who were obstructing the roadways and the infrastructure around Scotland, but (unintelligible) have resolved that situation. And as a result, because of that situation, the peaceful march which is about to commence, was actually canceled for a while.
KUHN: As the marchers prepared to set off towards Gleneagles, David Miller, a spokesman for the organizers G8 Alternatives, said the demonstrators had come to do more than just pressure the G8 leaders to address poverty.
Mr. DAVID MILLER (Spokesman, G8 Alternative): Pressure doesn't work. They won't listen; they don't listen. There needs to be a wholesale reform of the governmental architecture at a global level and at the national level in the G8 countries. It's perfectly apparent that the G8, the eight most powerful nations in the world, shouldn't run the world; the world should be run under democratic lines. And that's the problem all the way through this--is the lack of democracy.
(Soundbite of demonstration)
Unidentified Man: Three, two, one, go!
KUHN: Early this afternoon at least 3,000 protesters marched from the nearby village of Auchterarder to the metal fence ringing the summit venue. Some tried to scale the fence and were driven back or arrested by police. Others made their points more gently, including one man in camouflage and clown paint who gave his nom de guerre as `General Panic.'
"General PANIC": We are the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army here to provide fun, love and laughter to people, as well as providing a cutting critique of the G8.
Unidentified Woman #1: Clowns, fall in!
(Soundbite of crowd noise; whistles)
Unidentified Man: (Singing) Hey, Mr. Policeman, we've come for a peaceful protest.
KUHN: In Auchterarder, the closest village to the Gleneagles Hotel, resident Cara Williams(ph) and her neighbors watched the demonstrations from the roadside.
Ms. CARA WILLIAMS (Auchterarder Resident): But, no, I do think--I can't stop--I just can't stop watching what's going. I think it's amazing, especially for somewhere that is so quiet. So...
Unidentified Woman #2: It is quiet here, isn't it?
Ms. WILLIAMS: ...(Unintelligible). I don't know what's going on next. It's great.
KUHN: The last of the G8 concerts will be held in Edinburgh tonight, and campaigners and demonstrators plan activities for the rest of the three-day summit. While the protests are smaller and less violent than those at some previous summits, campaigners insist that their voices have now grown too loud for the G8 leaders to ignore. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Edinburgh, Scotland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.