First day of the summit
As I type, the indymedia centre on site here is packed to gills as stories are uploaded to the many countries around the world. Sorry no photos today; it was just too damn wet.
What a long day.
The last thing we did before we went to bed last night,was have a barrio meeting at which we sorted ourselves into affinity groups. Affinity groups are small groups of friends who undertake to look after each other on a protest. Each group is divided into buddies - smaller groups of two or three who undertake to always have each other in line of site.
The 'short bus' arrived just after midnigh .Then most tried to get a couple of hours sleep, others waited around the campfire.
At two, the sleepy camp roused itself. It was raining heavily and in the dark it was difficult to see very far. Shouts of 'cat' , 'seomra sproai' and 'red diesel' rang out as the three affinity groups called out to their members.
After assembling they shuffled to the main tent at which a crowd of about 600-800 had gathered. The throng then moved out of the camp with the intention of blockading the M9. After marching for distance, a police van arrived and followed behind. Soon later, a number of riot vans appeared (estimated about 6 vans, 100 riot police). They lined up at the end of the road, briefly splitting the group, who then retreated back down the road to a motorway junction. There was considerable confustion, as wet maps were consulted, directions considered, while in the background the black block smashed bank windows and constructed makeshift barricades.
This confusion continued all night. We discovered later that the police also very in considerable disarray as they had assumed that most of the protests would be occuring in Edinburgh. The wet weather, which made movement so difficult for us, also (apparently) slowed their use of police helicopers and sensing equipment. Used to urban tactics they seemed unsure of how to deal with prostestors in a rural setting. At times the group was split up, some returning the campsite, others moving through fields and towns until they eventually arrived at the motorway, which was blocaded and then shut down by the police. BBC reported that traffic was backed up all the way to Glasgow.
At the campsite people returned from actions in dribs and drabs throughout the day, some heading for sleep, some back out to other blocades which had been ongoing. At packed meetings a considerable list of actions was read out as a highly diverse actions (from clowns, to golfers, to hillwakers, to bikes, to car convoys, to lock ons) shut down roads leading to Gleneagles, some for only 10 minutes, some for up to 5 hours. My personal favorite was a report from the Kids Block who succeeded in breaching police lines, thus allowing some Black Blockers to escape. A member of the scottish parliament apparently said tht Dissent were a very organised group, a comment which brought a spontaneous burst of laughter at the meeting (perhaps 'differently organised' is more accurate).
There is a little concern that the police, embarrased by their failure, may move on the convergence camp, and meetings day discussed procedures in the event of that occurring. Particularily attention has been giving to ensuring that there are safe places for the many children that are on the site. One of the things that has most suprised me about this event is the wide range of age groups that are living here, in the meetings babies sit on laps, children play among the tents and at the other end of the spectrum are the many people in their fifties and sixies.
An Irish dissenter was detained by the London metropolitican police for wearing a Zapatista t-shirt (!!!) and questioned for about 20 mintues, before being released by another police force who said they had no right to detain him (tell that to the met).
Tonight the atmosphere is very different. The rain has finally stopped, and the surrounding countryside looks beautiful again. Though many are very tired, throughout the campsites the soundsystems are setting up, people are relaxing around the many campfires, and unwinding after a long, hectic day.
Tomorrow the G8 continues, solidarity action with those who have been imprisoned or detained (about 300 as far as I know, but there is no break down between those detained and those arrested) has been organised in Edinburgh.
I'm off for a drink now.