BACKGROUND. The Group of Eight, or G8, includes the seven most industrialized nations and Russia. Their agenda is one of corporate economic globalization and military aggression. They serve transnational corporations like the Gap, Bechtel, Boise Cascade, Chevron, Enron, and So-on. According to the UN, their policies are responsible for the deaths of 19,000 children a day. They met in Alberta in late June to re-slice the global pie, decide the fate of Africa, and plan terror--their "war on terrorism," their war to sustain global corporate piracy.|
INTRO. The mass protests against the G8 in Calgary and Kananaskis (the ski resort in the Rockies about 50 miles west of Calgary, where the G8 actually met) were a NON-STOP, CREATIVE, AWE-INSPIRING FESTIVAL of RESISTANCE attracting a reported 5,000 protestors!!! Concurrent with the G8 summit and protests, the G6B--Group of 6 Million--Peoples Summit was held at the University of Calgary, presenting the truth about corporate economic globalization and just, democratic, and sustainable alternatives to corporate rule and its deadly monoculture.
G8 PROTEST HIGHLIGHTS. Highlights included INCREDIBLE STREET THEATER from the Vermont-based troupe Bread and Puppet (a GIGANTIC CORPORATE PIRATE SHIP, a poetic and moving memorial to Carlo Guiliani, the young man murdered by police at the G8 summit last year in Genoa, as well as B&P's amazing repertory pieces "Courage," and "The Foot"), a DIE-IN, where people dropped in their tracks in a public plaza at the stroke of noon and rose to the winsome music of bagpipes a half hour later, focusing attention on all who have died as a result of G8 policies, especially those dying from AIDS across Africa, a 102-CAR CARAVAN to Kananaskis to confront the G8 and the unlawful suspension of civil rights (public access to public roads), an EARTH PEOPLE RITUAL from the Pagan Cluster, in which dozens of mud-coated creatures fulfilled an ancient prophesy by emerging from the earth and wandering the city, ritually toppling corporate towers and seeding loving cultures of balance, beauty, and delight in their ruins, and, of course, a stupendous GAP ACTION (details below), among other wondrous pageants, processions, and marches (critical mass bike ride, a Showdown at the Hoedown--OUR reception for the G8 delegates attending a corporate-sponsored dinner, the J26 snake march ending in anarchist soccer at downtown intersections, and so on)!
ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR & INTIMIDATION. The G8 meeting in Calgary was reported to be the most militarized global summit in history: $400 Million was spent on security, 5000 militia were deployed with instructions to use lethal force (i.e., to KILL any unauthorized persons discovered in the woods surrounding Kananaskis), rocket launchers were included in the arsenal of heavy weaponry, an entire prison was cleared out in anticipation of mass arrests, the Mayor of Calgary unilaterally suspended the Canadian Charter of Rights and Liberties (like the US Bill of Rights), stating that political demonstrations in public places would not be tolerated (only one permit was issued--all other applications were denied). There's no doubt that this atmosphere of fear and intimidation caused all of us to circumscribe our actions to some degree--for instance, in order to minimize the potential for violence, our Albertan hosts decided not to coordinate a mass civil disobedience; their reasons were strategic, as well as tactical: they felt that if the public's worst fears were realized at this point, it would be a huge set-back for the growing activist community in the arch-conservative, Big Oil-dominated province of Alberta. ...However, we soon called the MAYOR'S BLUFF!
G8 GAP ACTION. The Gap demo was the FIRST of the "unpermitted" actions--so it was a litmus test for potential police violence. It turned out to be a great warm-up action and a great success, drawing a crowd of well over 1,000 onlookers (including, btw, the most progressive Canadian MP, SVEND ROBINSON), a couple of hundred protestors, and about two dozen activists stripping for redwoods and workers rights--half of whom delivered the FULL MONTY! About 150 of us marched from the Convergence Center to the shopping complex that houses the Gap--we literally took the streets, JOYOUSLY SNAKING our way through cars and traffic! THOUSANDS of leaflets were distributed. Since we couldn't bring props into Canada, we made the BANNER the day before the action and it was a BEAUTE (it's soon to make its a way across the UK with awesome Scottish community organizers, ALEX and AMANDA, who helped create it and who have already staged a Gap action in Glasgow)! As we approached the mall, we were met by more activists and tens of hundreds of people who had lined the promenade on their lunch break. We were also engulfed by media--much national and international coverage of the Gap issues, including CNN, Reuters, and German television (I was recently told)!
Prior to the strip action, we took advantage of our CAPTIVE AUDIENCE and held a mini PEOPLE'S SUMMIT, with songs, chants, and inspiring speeches from Starhawk, Gordon Christie of the Calgary District Labour Council, Tony Silvaggio of Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (founded by steelworkers and Earth-Firsters!), Jamie Dunn of the Council of Canadians, making the connection between deforestation and the world water crisis, Albertan activist Leila--beautifully filling in for a last-minute cancellation on local environmental issues, two unscheduled awesome Guatemalan activists, and myself addressing the Gap issues and G8/Gap connection. The ALBERTAN ACTIVISTS made the action their own by MOONING the audience with "Boycott Gap!!" written across their BUTTOCKS as the PIECE DE RESISTANCE! People felt giddily empowered by the action--it definitely kicked it up quite a few notches, making spirits soar for the events that followed!!! (check out alberta.indymedia.org for some great shots.)
CULMINATING ACTIONS. As mentioned above, the protests did not center on nor culminate in coordinated mass civil disobedience as they have at past mass actions. But there was a BUILD to TWO DRAMATIC CONCLUDING EVENTS: The elaborate and VISUALLY RIVETING pagan ritual (see Earth People above--the only G8 action to make into the San Francisco Chronicle, btw) concurrent with a second trip to Kananaskis, from which a civil rights lawsuit will proceed!!! NOT TOO SHABBY!!! The Government demonstrated in no uncertain terms the CORPORATE OLIGARCHY'S reliance on a POLICE STATE aimed directly at suppressing people, democracy, and justice--in a way, they did some of our work for us.
I personally came away from the G8 protests empowered, with a renewed desire to become a more effective activist.
THREE MIGHTY CHEERS FOR...
...THIS INCREDIBLE WEEK OF ACTIONS!!!
...THE PEOPLE WHO ORGANIZED THEM!!!!!!
...& ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!!!!!!!!
***SPECIAL THANKS to the CALGARY LEGAL COLLECTIVE for their fabulous support (it was a huge hassle getting in, starting at SFO!), to the *AWESOME* ACTIVIST FAMILY who housed Stefan and me, headed by MARDY ROBERTS and RICK COLLIER (hospitality does not get better than this!), to Edmonton activist DEB ROBB, whom I recognized from her incredible organizing around the WTO SHUT-DOWN in Seattle, and who was just as dazzling, warm, and helpful in Calgary--an activist's activist, to the terrific Albertan organizers SCOTT HARRIS & PATRICK McCURDY who were integral to the success of the Gap action--and so much else, to the amazing LABOUR organizers GORDIE CHRISTIE, MIKE ? (representing 2.5 million union workers across Canada), among others (including an awesome woman, whose name I never caught) for totally embracing the spokescouncil process, to FIREWEED of BC for her wisdom, help and grounding, to the PAGAN CLUSTER for their amazing focus and dedication, and to GRACIELA and CLAIRE of BREAD & PUPPET, who turned me on to a whole new way of doing political street-theater!!!***
***Also, MANY THANKS to everyone who made it to the SF kick-off event on Friday, June 22, 2002, including VICTOR MENOTTI of the International Forum on Globalization who mc-ed the event, LEILA SALAZAR of Global Exchange, JESSICA MARCUS of Mexico Solidarity Network, various wondrous members of the Bay Area Core Group, including a surprise appearance from beloved JEAN PETERS and the incomparable ACTERRA schoolies, and especially to ROSIBEL for devoting three days to getting us out the door! HUGE THANKS to the activists who stayed behind and attended the FIRST PUBLIC HEARINGS on the Fishers' LICENSE TO KILL--I heard you were marvelous!!!***
As Graciela is fond of saying...
Amor y Anarquia!
Mary Bull, Coordinator
Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap Campaign
252 Frederick Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
FOR REDWOODS & WORKERS,
BOYCOTT GAP, BANANA REPUBLIC, & OLD NAVY!
FOR PEOPLE & PLANET,
STOP "FAST TRACK" & THE FTAA! http://www.stopftaa.org
(Note: There is going to be another House vote on fast-track!
On Dec. 6, fast track won by one vote! Don't let that happen again!
Call your House rep NOW!!!) http://www.citizen.org/trade/fasttrack/action/
TO END INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM,
DISMANTLE THE PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! http://www.booksnotbars.org
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