All over Scotland, (dis)organisations as varied as the grassroots network dissent! and the largely conservative coalition "make poverty history" protested against the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles. The reasons were as varied as the forms to express disagreement, from marching to blockading, from clowning to filming, from talking to direct action. Although police from all over the UK were busy containing protesters in pens, arresting, searching and holding them under section 60 [Legal Support Group statement], discontent with the G8 agenda was voiced in many significant places and eventually supported by international solidarity.
After more than a year of preparations and campaigning, at least 250,000 people came to Scotland to protest at the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles. We came for a wide range of reasons and protested in a diversity of ways, while the G8 leaders hid away on a golf course.
Events kicked off on Saturday 2 July with the Make Poverty History march and rally in Edinburgh. As over 200,000 white T-shirts walked around the city, a bloc of some 300 anti-capitalists were detained in a police pen for over 3 hours and denied the right to join the protests.
Sunday saw the Make Borders History tour of Glasgow highlighting the racist asylum and immigration politics of the G8 and other states in closing their borders to people escaping poverty and political persecution. Sunday also marked the start of three counter-conferences in Edinburgh: the Days of Dissent! Turning Ideas into Action 5 day programme; the G8Alternatives 1 day conference; and the NGO-organised Corporate Dream, Global Nightmare.
Faslane, Scotland's nuclear submarine base was blocked and shut down on Monday. A Carnival of Full Enjoyment, in Edinburgh, was called on the same day to resist the daily grind of the institutions that plunge us into overwork, poverty and debt. Instead, it became quickly dubbed the Carnival for Full Policing as events in the city showed how fast a place can be turned into a temporary police state. Protesters, media and bystanders were cordonned-in for hours as Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) roamed the city, stopping and searching people under section 60 for no obvious reason. The city of Edinburgh came to a stand-still as shoppers and tourists mixed with protestors facing lines of (riot) police and the ever present Clowns.
Different actions took place on Tuesday including a protest at the Dungavel Detention Centre where the authorities had found it necessary to evacute the centre of all detainees before the protests. The eco-village called Hori-zone in Stirling, became the focus of more or less continous searches of people getting in and out of the the camp.
Street blockades met the first day of the G8 on Wednesday. 5000 people marched on Gleneagles. The fence protecting Gleneagles hotel was breached. The day, which saw mass arrests, started quietly at midnight with the early warning Beacons of Dissent lit in the Ochil Hills. At 3:30am hundreds left the Stirling campsite to join the blockades only to clash with riot police. Many were forced back. Others went to occupy roads: the A9 leading to Gleneagles was blocked for several hours. Other blockades included the Kids Tea Party.
The G8Alternatives' coaches taking people mainly from Edinburgh to the March on Gleneagles were stopped by the police for hours. When police unilaterally declared the march cancelled Coach loads were sent back to Edinburgh starting a spontanous demonstration of 700 people in the streets that was again heavily clamped down on. Finally, the majority of the coaches were allowed to Auchterader, the village closest to the Gleneagles Hotel. Around 5,000 people started moving towards the perimeter of the fence, where many paused bringing the entire march to a standstill. A determined group dismantled the fence in front of police lines. Another group of about 700 entered a nearby field moving towards another fence forming the enclosure of the Hotel. This fence was also partially dismantled and a watch tower attacked. The police were forced to use Chinook military helicopters to fly in more riot cops to secure the hotel grounds. [Detailed report]
Actions on Thursday were overshawdowed by the bombs in London, and vigils were held. During the night, the Stirling campsite was encircled by hundreds of riot police blocking activists in come the morning. Mass stop and search tactics continued to hinder people, especially in Stirling where anyone leaving and entering the camp was section 60'd. Friday, the third and final day of the G8 summit saw a subdued day of action on the causes of climate change with a street party in Glasgow and smaller actions in Edinburgh. Protestors in Stirling still found themselves heavily controlled and large groups were stopped from leaving the camp. Despite this, the atmosphere in the camp remained good.
The legal support team estimate that at least 700 people were arrested and 350 charged. Targeted actions of London's FIT teams resulted in several of the arrests. Most people were released with strict bail conditions, having to leave the districs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and/or Stirling or even Scotland all together. Several people were rearrested for breaching their bail conditions. Section 60 was continuously used to stop and search people. The Wombles became a target of unprecedented police harrasment.
During the days of the G8, solidarity actions took place all over the world.
As the protests and repression were taking place on the streets of Scotland, a summit to deliver Africa into the arms of the G8's corporations and abandon the (already heavily compromised) Kyoto treaty climate change was also happening behind the fences and armed police of Gleneagles. The G8 communique was spun as a triumph but proved all the critics right - there was no deal on trade, debt relief will only be granted to 18 countries and is worth just over $1bn, not the 60 and $45.7bn demanded as a minimum by the conservative Make Poverty History coalition, and the $50bn a year aid increase from the rich countries to the poor will only kick in by 2010 and is some $75bn short of development campaigner's demands. To get these crumbs from the table, Africa must commit to major Western-style economic and political reforms. Geldof and Bono caused outrage from normally mild-mannered NGOs when they described the outcome as "the greatest G8 summit there has ever been for Africa". War on Want and World Development Movement released a joint statement criticising the G8 summit as a betrayal and launched a scathing attack on Bono and Geldof, arguing that they "may be content with crumbs from the table of [their] rich political friends. But we did not come to Gleneagles as beggars. We came to demand justice for the world's poor." Geldof in return branded the NGO's criticism as a "disgrace".