Published on Thursday, June 27, 2002 by Agence France Presse
G8 Protesters Turn to Knitting Blankets to Needle Heavy Security Presence
CALGARY -- Anti-globalization protestors hit the streets here to protest this year's Group of Eight summit, armed with knitting needles instead of the bottles, petrol bombs and stones that rocked last year's meeting in Italy.
More than 1,000 protesters turned to creative gimmicks Wednesday to press for Third World debt relief and to denounce corporate greed -- a stark contrast to the militancy expressed by the 150,000 protesters who descended on last July's G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy.
Last year, window-smashing and car-burning protesters left the streets of Genoa in tatters. One protester was shot dead by a policeman.
This year, several dozen protesters, seeking to needle the city's heavy police presence, gathered on a stretch of Calgary's main pedestrian street to collectively knit in protest.
"I'm knitting 12-inch (30 centimeter) squares that will get into blankets for the homeless," said 74-year-old Patricia Grinstead.
"What we're doing is symbolic. Another thing about the blankets is that they represent warmth and security because we feel we are losing our security."
Grant Neufeld, the young founder of the Revolutionary Knitting Circle, said knitting was symbolic of "community independence."
"We need as communities to be able to take care of ourselves because when we are not able to take care of ourselves, we end up dependent on others -- in this case the corporation -- to survive."
"And when we're dependent on them, they can tell us what to do," like eating genetically modified foods or clothing made in child-labor dependent sweatshops, he said.
Turning the other cheek, some protesters on Tuesday bared their bums in front of the GAP clothing store, spelling Boycott GAP! across their buttocks.
Early Thursday, Calgarians should look for some mud and nakedness in a staged protest event from a pagan cluster, said Calgary activist Sarah Kerr attending a solidarity night gathering.
Some 1,000 activists crowded into the Uptown theater to celebrate the "creativity of this movement", joining in the singing of activist-adapted songs like "In the jungle, the corporate jungle, the lion plots tonight," Kerr said.
"Humor is very effective," said Ifny, 27, an activist bound for a peaceful picnic midday Wednesday, where 1,000 activists ate hamburgers, hot dogs and organic french fries cooked by a solar-powered Greenpeace generator.
"People have learned from past mistakes," Ifny said, noting violent protests only leave the taste of fear among the public.
But "when you make people laugh, you share an instant commonality," she said.
Other young activists -- mostly from Canada -- painted their faces like the Grim Reaper at a "die-in" in a downtown plaza to commemorate the victims of AIDS and the victim of last year's Genoa shooting.
About 400 demonstrators blocked traffic on the only road to Kananaskis late in the day, but no incidents were reported.
Anti-G8 protests in Calgary, and smaller ones in Ottawa and Toronto, also were non-violent.
The arrest Wednesday of a union official in Kananaskis Park for "obstructing a peace officer," was only one of a few summit-related detentions. Two US citizens were arrested late Sunday for defacing Canadian Pacific Railways wagons with paint.
Two others, found in possession of gas masks and graffiti equipment, were detained on immigration matters late Tuesday.
In Ottawa, where some 300 protested, including a few who bared some skin, police arrested one after a clash with a police officer. A police car also was damaged.
Copyright 2002 AFP