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Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2003

Protesters plotting ways to infiltrate next G-8 meeting

July 24, 2003

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— The protesters' ideas range from the fantastic -- pooling money to buy one of this island's multimillion-dollar homes -- to the pragmatic, such as settling for demonstrations 60 miles away in Savannah.

As soon as President Bush picked this secluded resort island for next summer's G-8 summit of world leaders, anti-globalization activists were buzzing on the Internet about ways to thwart security that will be thicker than the surrounding marsh grasses.

"Folks are going to try any number of approaches," said Andrew Willis, a Washington anarchist organizer who plans to protest at the June summit. "Some people want to stop the meetings altogether, some want to get in the leaders' faces themselves. Some want to get media attention."

Past meetings of the Group of Eight -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia -- have attracted thousands of protesters. The Sea Island summit is expected to as well.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has said Bush chose 5-mile-long Sea Island in part because of its natural barriers -- the Atlantic Ocean, surrounding marsh and St. Simons Island, which sits between Sea Island and the mainland with a single causeway connecting them.

Perdue said last week he would welcome protesters as long as they act peacefully, though demonstrators would be barred from Sea Island. Still, some were already floating plans on the message boards of the anarchist Web site infoshop.org.

One messager using the name "wispy" suggested trying to breach the island with a flotilla of boats flying pirate flags and blaring composer Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries."

Two U.S. Coast Guard boats inspect a vessel, center, on the back
river between St. Simons Island, Ga., and the F.J. Torras Causeway
in the background. St. Simons Island is the heavily populated
island between Sea Island and Brunswick, Ga., where the causeway
begins. The Bush administration has selected Sea Island, Ga., as
site of the 2004 G-8 Summit.

Two U.S. Coast Guard boats inspect a vessel, center, on the back river between St. Simons Island, Ga., and the F.J. Torras Causeway in the background. St. Simons Island is the heavily populated island between Sea Island and Brunswick, Ga., where the causeway begins. The Bush administration has selected Sea Island, Ga., as site of the 2004 G-8 Summit.

"Our chances of actually reaching the island would be slim to none," wrote wispy. "But the news coverage of a rag tag armada of pontoons, sail boats and motor boats attempting to land on Sea Island in protest of the ills of global capitalism would be massive."

A posting by the group Food Not Bombs in Berkeley, Calif., said it might build a "a floating food warehouse and communal kitchen to serve delicious vegan meals to participants arriving at the island by kayak."

Or perhaps protesters could take up a collection to buy one of Sea Island's 500 "cottages," which range in price from $1.3 million to $18 million.

"If ten-thousand people chipped in half a grand each, we could collectively own it, and then throw a REALLY BIG HOUSEWARMING PARTY," wrote a messager using the name "mj," who included a link to real estate listings on Sea Island's Web site. "It'd have to be illegal to keep us off the island."

Remote sites such as Sea Island have become summit hotspots in an attempt to shield dignitaries from disruption.

Denver played host to the last U.S. G-8 summit in 1997. But since the 1999 World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, where volatile protests inflicted $2 million in damages, and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, summits have sought more private hideaways.

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