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Blockading the G8: personal accounts
Tue, 12 Jul 2005 22:08:30 -0400

Blockading the G8: personal accounts
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The disruption caused by blockades during the opening day of this years G8 Summit was so massive, that entire delegations canceled their arrivals, or were delayed until the late afternoon. What follows is a compilation of first person accounts of the day, and information from inside sources. We also include some preliminary analysis of blockading tactics. The site of the summit. the Gleneagles golf resort, was chosen in the belief that its isolation would prevent effective protest. In the end, its isolation proved a liability, as protesters emerged from the surrounding forests and hills, forcing the police into unfamiliar territory, and outmaneuvering them until the roads of Scotland were paralyzed.

Protesters were spread over three convergence centers -- one in Edinburgh, one in Glasgow, and a rural ecovillage close to Gleneagles. While this made communication between us difficult, it also spread the resources of the police to the breaking point. Due to massive incompetence, the police were mistakenly convinced that Edinburgh would be the focus of the blockades, and sent most of their forces there. There decision appears to have been based on advice from the London police force, whose personal obsession with some of the individuals staying in the urban convergence spaces (members of the London-based Wombles) made them blind to what everyone else was planning.

Those at the ecovillage planned to stage a number of blockades on the roads surrounding Gleneagles. There were two public blockading actions which had been proposed by different groups and consented to on by the ecovillage spokescouncil -- a blockade of the A9 (the primary motorcade route of the delegates and staff), and another of the M9, a strategic point within walking distance of the ecovillage. A car convoy and critical mass bike ride were to serve as flying blockades.

The big difficulty we faced was that the ecovillage was easy for the police to seal off (all other previous site locations had fallen through following pressure on landowners by the police). The A9 was also an eight hour hike from the ecovillage. This didn't deter us. Groups had to leave the ecovillage well before the blockades, due to go up the morning of July 6th. On the morning of July 5th, small groups of people dotted the ecovillage, sitting in circles around maps and planning their blockades. Throughout the day, groups would approach the action transport tent, and ask to get taken to their sleeping location. Others just starting walking over the hills towards Gleneagles. As darkness fell, most of the inhabitants of the ecovillage were scattered in the hills and forests around Gleneagles. By the time the police realised what was happening, it was too late. They set up a security cordon around the camp on the evening of the 5th, but by then, we were already in the hills.

A9 blockade

At midnight, beacons of dissent were lit on the top of two of the tallest hills surrounding Gleneagles. Such fire beacons had been used for centuries in Scotland as a warning of impending invasion. The beacons strengthened the resolve of those of us who saw them. We had been walking through the woods in pouring rain, slowly making our way towards our blockade location. Overhead, helicopters would eerily hover, some with massive search lights, and others with heat sensing cameras. Each time one flew over, we would run under trees, and huddle into a compact pile, so that the police wouldn't be able to count how many of us there were.

We arrived close to our blockade point in time to catch an hour or two of sleep. We were soaked by the rain, and cold, but we knew that throughout the forest, there were other small groups just like ours, waiting to take the motorcade route at dawn. At 7 a.m., we struck, dragging branches onto the A9, and quickly forcing a line of cars and trucks to a halt. We were a small group of around 40, but we were one of many such groups all of whom took the A9 at a number of different locations between the towns of Greenloaning and Blackford. The dispersed nature of our blockade meant that the police had to be spread all along the road, and due to the blockades, they had difficulty moving from one location to the other.

After some time, our group got pushed off the road. However, we quickly realised that the police were unable or unwilling to leave the road and go into the fields. Before long, we had developed a simple strategy. We would jump onto the road and block it, until the police were eventually able to gather sufficient resources to get us off. Then, we would quickly run off into the fields, walk to another point along the road, and get back on. This completely confounded the police who spent the whole day driving back and forth to blockade points which would simply evaporate and reform somewhere else. As a result, we were able to hold the A9 the entire day. From time to time, some traffic was able to get through, but the safety of the road was so unpredictable that they were virtually unable to send motorcades down it. There primary motorcade route was down, and Scotland was completely cleaved in half.


M9 blockade

The M9 was chosen because it is a major artery to Gleneagles, and was within easy walking distance of the ecovillage. But to get there, we had to get through a cordon of about 50 police. Our plan was less than subtle -- we would go through them. Marching out at 3 a.m. we somehow managed to catch them by surprise. We were dubbed the "suicide bloc", and our method "the big stick plan". Those of us in front had padding and big sticks, and beat them against the shields of the riot cops who quickly retreated. Behind us, a group of Germans dressed in black pushed two shopping carts of rocks, and threw them at the well armoured police. "This is how we do things in Germany!" they explained to the polite British amongst us.

We got through the cordon, and marched towards the M9 junction. The police eventually managed to push us off our route and into a business estate of chain stores. A car dealership, Bank of Scotland, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and PC World proved too much of a temptation for some in our group, and windows were smashed and the chain stores graffitied. Media reported that homes and personal cars were attacked, but this was not true.

People on bicycles scouted ahead to feed us information on police positions, and eventually we got to the junction we were aiming for. Later, we were met by others who had managed to get out of the ecovillage. People marched through fields to evade the cops. Other groups also took to the M9, including at various points a Samba band, and a bike convoy. Playing cat and mouse with the police for the entire day, we managing to keep the M9 shut.

Photos and video
Full account of the suicide squad: http://www.counterpunch.org/tina07122005.html

Flying blockades...

Bike convoy

Car convoy

The car convoy managed to get out of the ecovillage after eventually being stopped. They wound their way up and down the A9, traveling at a crawl, and yelling "we love it when people block us in". Blockaders were more than happy to oblige!

Kids protest

Affinity Group Blockades

The minor routes were taken by small "affinity groups" which had been meeting in secret in the weeks leading up to the summit. Early in the morning, we struck, focusing on locations close to where staff were staying. We also blockaded the rail lines. Most of the blockades were "hard", using tripods, locks, and sleeves. Cars were also used. The first blockade to hit was the one at Crieff, where staff and American delegates were staying. The first car we stopped was a group of American delegates trying to get to the summit. Some of the affinity blockades lasted the entire day, while a few were taken down in about two hours.

The following points were blockaded:


Those in Edinburgh, based in the Jack Kane center, decided to blockade the Sheraton hotel, where a number of delegates were staying. The delegation from Japan ended up being delayed an additional half hour, just to get out the hotel. While this blockade would turn out to be small, it had the effect of creating a diversion, drawing most of the police resources into the city. It also had the added bonus of forcing Bob Geldof to switch hotels, from the Sheraton to the Balmoral.


Due to the blockades, the situation was so ungovernable that police initially canceled the G8 Alternatives march from Auchterarder. The march organisers threatened to march anyway, and eventually the police relented, although the march was delayed from noon, until 4:30, with many people being turned back. Meanwhile, those who had been forced off their blockades began walking to Gleneagles, and helped form a breakaway march, which walked towards the security fence and tore it down. Police had to abandon their watch towers, and additional police had to be flown in by Chinook helicopters.



DIST (http://www.tao.ca/~wrench/dist ) sent several blockade experts to the G8 to Analise tactics. These self-proclaimed revolutionary consultants produced this guide
(http://www.tao.ca/~wrench/dist/badpress/blockade_guide.html )
and had the following few tips to aid in future blockades

If you wish to add additional information or tips to this account, please email wrench (at) tao.ca

We will update this text at

@ 2005 DIST

reportsresist g8 2005www.agp.org