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,
Turning the other cheek, some protesters on Tuesday bared
their bums in front of the GAP clothing store, spelling Boycott GAP! across
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.
Downtown streets here -- some 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of where the leaders
of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States
are meeting -- stand heavily guarded by police on foot, bikes and in helicopters.
About 400 protesters face off with RCMP members as they block Highway 40 the G8
Summit site in Kananaskis June 26, 2002. Some members of the Japanese delegation
were forced to find another way into the site. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante
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
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