Scottish police cancel, then allow anti-G8 marches

Scottish police seem to be perplexed making two controversial decisions within several hours amid growing anti-G8 protests.

At first Tayside police canceled a planned protest march Wednesday at Auchterarder outside the G8 summit after demonstrators smashed car windows, threw rocks and attempted to blockade one of the main approach roads to the exclusive Gleneagles resort hosting the summit.

Police said it called off the march in the village of Auchterarder, expected to draw 5,000 or more people, on the grounds of public safety after consulting with organizers.

But organizer G8 Alternatives accused the police of "disgraceful behavior" in preventing thousands of people the right to stage a peaceful protest, reports the AP.

"This is a serious indictment of British democracy," said spokeswoman Gill Hubbard.

Police said they would turn back busloads of demonstrators who left Edinburgh early in the morning for the march. Chief Superintendent Iain MacLeod of Tayside Police said so far some 1,500 protesters had gathered in Auchterarder. He said discussions continued with the march organizers to see if some compromise could be reached.

Protesters already in Auchterarder were dismayed by the decision.

"How can they call this a democracy if they are not going to let us take part in a peaceful protest?" said Marilyn Rooney, 54, from the Scottish town of Alloa.

"There are no troublemakers here, there has been no trouble here and we have been enjoying a good atmosphere," she said.

The protests had caused apprehension in Auchterarder, a village of 4,000 people 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) northeast of the Gleneagles summit venue.

But then police said they would allow protesters to march to the edge of the G-8 summit venue.

Reuters gave the chronology of some recent major anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation protests:

Nov-Dec 1999 - SEATTLE, United States - Anti-globalisation demonstrators disrupted a World Trade Organisation meeting. The city declared a curfew after clashes between protesters and the police, dubbed "The Battle in Seattle". A total of 525 people were arrested. Jan 2000 - DAVOS, Switzerland - Some 2,000 anti-free-trade demonstrators, denouncing the annual World Economic Forum as a "meeting of murderers", smashed car windscreens and broke windows at a McDonald's restaurant, but failed to break through police lines to disrupt the conference.

Sept 2000 - PRAGUE - Protesters clashed with police near the congress centre where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were holding their annual meetings. Police estimated some 10,000 to 12,000 protesters were involved.

April 2001 - QUEBEC CITY, Canada - Three days of clashes between police and anti-globalisation activists failed to stop a Summit of the Americas, attended by leaders from 34 countries. Most protesters were peaceful but black-clad anarchists, many of them from groups calling themselves Black Blocs, attacked the steel perimeter fence. About 400 arrests were made.

June 2001 - GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Up to 25,000 activists from dozens of anti-EU, anti-U.S. and anti-globalisation groups descended on Sweden's second city during a European Union summit, outnumbering police by up to 25 to one. Three activists were shot and injured when about 1,000 protesters rampaged through the main street.

July 2001 - GENOA, Italy - Tens of thousands of anti-capitalist demonstrators filled inner-city streets during a Group of Eight summit. One Italian protester was shot dead by police, the first death in nearly 2 years of violent anti-globalisation protests. A total of 67 people were detained and many complained subsequently of police brutality.

June 2003 - EVIAN, France - Several hundred black-hooded protesters blocked roads and ransacked shops in the Lake Geneva area as heads of the world's leading industrial democracies gathered for their annual G8 summit.

Photo: AP

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