Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/398/4852
G8 forces occupy Sheffield
They came to the G8 in-Justice Ministers meeting in Sheffield on 15-17 June from all over the country. From West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Manchester, Newcastle, West Midlands and even London.
The invading police from eight forces came in buses, vans and cars, on motorcycles and horses, and by air in helicopters. For three days, the city centre was a virtual police state: blocked roads; 'sterile' areas; buses and trams stopped; riot police.
This huge operation costing millions has been a training exercise for Gleneagles. Perhaps that's what the council leader meant by "showcasing the city".
Older workers recalled the miners' strike. But younger protesters weren't intimidated. The Samba Band drummed resistance, the anti-privatisation Pirates chanted defiance and the Insurgent Clowns Rebel Army (don't ask!) just took the piss!
Following the 1,000 strong Peace and Justice demo, hundreds hit the streets on successive evenings to protest against our unwelcome visitors' wining and dining.
Right to protest
The right to protest was reduced to the right of 100 people to be penned behind police barricades hundreds of yards away from the politicians. Even so, the brass band playing at the civic reception was drowned out by chants of "G8, IMF. How many kids have you starved to death?"
Socialist Party (SP) members Edd and Steve were interviewed and broadcast by TV news but said, "the media were only interested in the violence, not what the protests were about." Later on the second night, SP members got a text message from Devonshire Green where earlier there had been 'Rice for Dinner' (billions exist on daily rice contrasted to the 5-course meals the G8 ministers were feeding on), reading "police preparing a massacre"!
Most Sheffield people were outraged by not being able to walk their own streets. SP member Wendy said that this gave her a great opportunity at work to explain what the G8 and the protests were really about. Reflecting this, over 200 copies of the socialist were sold in the week.
One home-made placard read: "Newsflash - G8 wear Hoodies!" Well they certainly operate in gangs, are threatening, and go around mugging and robbing people. We need to put a giant ASBO on them - "A Socialist Behaviour Order"!
In The Socialist 23 June 2005: