Gleneagles Protesters Condemn Police Assaults

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ANGRY protesters have condemned police tactics at the G8 Alternatives demonstration in Auchterarder, outside Gleneagles on Wednesday, when riot police, mounted police and police with dogs were used to disperse demonstrators after hundreds had marched peacefully into a field.

James Shade and Jackie Wilson, from Govanhill, Glasgow, spoke to News Line.

James said: ‘They battered me and they battered a lassie as she was sitting down in a protest, with her back to them.

‘They kept kicking her in the back until she got up and then they were just coming at us, drawing their batons and hollering out at the top of their lungs at us.

‘It was completely over the top.

‘Most of the people in the field were pacifists. They were no threat to anyone.

‘I had to throw my top away. I was hit with a shield and put on my backside and people had to draw me away so the dogs wouldn’t bite me and they didn’t get me with the batons.

‘I had my hands in the air and I said “peaceful protest’’.

‘There must have been hundreds of people in the field when they started attacking us.

‘All we did was go into the field instead of the street.

‘It was a statement and they weren’t wearing numbers. The worst of it is we pay their wages.’

Nick, a photographer from South Africa, said: ‘I followed the people into the fields.

‘We still got through after the riot police had actually arrived to block everything off.

‘There were hundreds in the fields and that obviously got too much for the police and they called in more riot police and police with dogs and the horses and then tried to shepherd everyone into small areas.

‘A lot of people refused to leave, which prompted the police to get a bit aggressive.

‘I ended up getting smashed with one of their shields and I saw a couple of police push a woman and an old man.

‘After that, people followed what the police were doing, got into small groups and dispersed.

‘It was a big police operation.

‘I thought the decision to transport riot police into the field in a military helicopter was a scare tactic.

‘I think the fence that surrounded the field was at least a mile from the G8 summit.’

Nick added: ‘I thought it was pretty underhand to try and stop people coming to demonstrate outside the G8. It’s freedom of expression.

‘But when they have to cover their backsides any tactic becomes acceptable.’

Maureen and her daughter Siobhan Duffy, from Irvine, who went by coach to take part in the march, said they thought that from the outset the way police handled the event ‘was a disgrace’.

‘We were getting information on the bus through on the way to Auchterarder that the media were reporting that the event was cancelled,’ they said.

‘The Chinook helicopter they used is used to move troops in Northern Ireland.

‘We wondered if they were bringing troops.’

‘There was a far too large police presence,’ said Maureen. ‘It wasn’t necessary and I think it was designed to be intimidating.’

Siobhan said: ‘One of my friends was a steward at the event and he phoned up a BBC newsdesk and they said to him that they should think about perhaps the G8 Alternatives march should be cancelled.

‘This was when stewards were trying to ascertain where the information had come from that the march had been cancelled.

‘I think my civil rights were violated today,’ said Maureen. ‘I had a right to go there.’

Despite roadblocks and ‘scare stories’ in the capitalist press before the march, around 15,000 people took part in the demonstration.

Many villagers came out onto the streets to welcome the protesters.

The march began from the local park and the demonstrators made their way along the road in a carnival atmosphere until they were met by metal fences, with mounted riot police assembled on the other side.

The march was shepherded around a corner towards a field and many people decided to march through the field up to a police control tower in the distance, where there were more metal fences.

As the march came round the corner there were already cranes with TV cameramen at the top of them to film proceedings.

Then police reinforcements were brought in using a Chinook helicopter, to cries of ‘Shame’ and boos from the crowd in the road, where riot police had also moved in.

Auchterarder was full of police even as demonstrators tried to find their coaches to get home.

Before the march started, coaches carrying people to the protest were stopped near a roundabout, some miles away.

They were held by the roadside for hours, before eventually being allowed to proceed under an escort of police vans.

Whilst they were waiting at the roadside, radio reports said the march had been cancelled.

There were also reports that Stirling had been sealed off and police had used pepper spray on some people there and that there was a ‘ring of steel’ around Gleneagles.

About a thousand people were not able to get on the coaches from Edinburgh and several people who were left behind in the city also complained about policing there.

One of those travelling by coach to the G8 Alternatives march told News Line what he thought of the G8 leaders’ summit.

Trevor Ngwane, from Soweto in South Africa, who was wearing a ‘Make Capitalism History’ badge, said: ‘The policies of the West have created a lot of poverty and suffering.

‘The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. Children dying of hunger, people dying of disease and the despair of unemployment, environmental destruction and deforestation and general loss of hope in the future and in human solidarity.

‘As long as we allow capitalism to continue to exist the pain and suffering will continue.’