G-8 Summit events spur local action
More than a hundred people gathered on Shattuck Avenue Friday night to protest the death of a man in Genoa, Italy, who was reportedly shot by police while protesting a meeting in which the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations vowed to fight AIDS and global economic woes.
The Berkeley protest was called early Friday after news of the shooting began to circulate. Another protest is scheduled in San Francisco on Monday. Protesters began their march at the Berkeley BART station and travelled to what they called symbols of corporate oppression – including Citibank on Shattuck Avenue and the Gap on Telegraph Avenue.
One of the organizers, Berkeley resident Joseph Hill, said the protest was not simply focused on the one violent incident.
“Hopefully, the message we send to day will be about bigger issues, about the world’s biggest corporations trying to concentrate their power to the point where they can kill the planet without anyone stopping them,” he said.
The Berkeley protest was mild and until 9 p.m. last night was without incident or arrest – a sharp contrast to the day’s earlier bloodshed overseas.
In Genoa, European heads plotted against President Bush’s environmental policies safe inside their summit site as club-wielding riot police and violent protesters clashed.
Dozens of protesters were injured in bloody demonstrations against the policies being pursued by presidents and prime ministers inside the walls of a nearby palace.
With miles of fence-and-concrete barricades isolating them from tens of thousands of protesters, President Bush and the six other leaders at the summit issued a joint statement saying the right policies were in place to avert a global recession — though the economy “has slowed more than expected.”
Their summit overshadowed, the frustrated leaders pressed forward with an agenda designed to show sympathy for causes espoused by some demonstrators: An AIDS plan for Third World countries that includes $1.2 billion in initial pledges, as well as economic relief for poor nations.
They also pledged to rally their sluggish economies and open a new round of global trade talks, even as anti-globalization forces stirred outside the security zone.
Bush told aides the death was tragic. Earlier, he questioned the protesters’ motives.
“Instead of addressing policies that represent the poor, you embrace policies that lock poor people into poverty,” Bush said on the opening day of a three-day summit.
In a joint statement, the leaders expressed regret for the death and condemned the violence, urging peaceful protesters to isolate lawbreakers by example.
The protests revived memories of demonstrations that have marred international summits in Quebec and Seattle, but the death apparently was the first connected to such clashes.
There was speculation that smaller cities might be better venues for future summits because they can be sealed off to protesters. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who hosts the next economic meeting, has not announced its location but he said fellow leaders “expressed frustration with the lack of attention to the substance of the summit.”
Anti-globalization protesters flooded this hilly, Mediterranean port city — with many of them turning violent. An unknown number hurled cobblestones and Molotov cocktails, smashed windows, set fires to cars and trash bins and looted storefronts.
Computers and other office equipment were flung from one office building.
Police responded with water cannons, tear gas and nightsticks, clubbing some protesters into submission and arresting dozens.
The dead young man was not immediately identified by authorities, but Italy’s top police official said he was shot, apparently by officers acting in self-defense. Several police were injured.
French President Jacques Chirac, who faces a socialist challenger in next year’s election, was the only leader to express sympathy for protesters. “There is no demonstration drawing 100,000, 150,000 people without having a valid reason,” he said.
Inside the 13th century palace-turned-conference center, Chirac led a lobbying effort against Bush’s climate change policies.
“It is our duty to act vigorously and collectively to combat the principal threat to the future of the planet,” he told Chretien, according to officials in the French delegation.
Later, Chirac and Bush were seen engaged in animated conversation during a summit dinner that also included leaders from five poor countries.
Bush has defied most of the industrialized world by denouncing a 1997 Kyoto global warming treaty aimed at reducing heat-trapping gases. His administration has quietly urged Canada, Australia and Japan to scuttle an effort by pro-treaty nations to implement the pact without the United States.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi supports the treaty that bears the name of his country’s ancient capital, but nonetheless assured Bush recently that he doesn’t want to proceed without the United States.
In a private chat, Koizumi told German Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder, a treaty backer, that Japan “will do our best” to see the pact take effect in 2002, according to the Japanese delegation.
The president himself has told his colleagues he won’t bow to their pressure on Kyoto. He has promised to provide an alternative to the treaty.
Bush is also at odds with U.S. allies over his plans to develop a missile defense system. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has warned that the system could trigger a new arms race, attended the summit with leaders of the traditional Group of Seven — the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.
Bush meets privately with Putin on Sunday.
Putin joined his seven colleagues and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to announce a new global health fund, with an initial contribution of $1.2 billion, to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases.
Annan praised the effort, but said the leaders fell short of the $7 billion to $10 billion needed to fight diseases.
On the economy, the leaders’ statement also:
—Predicted that Bush’s tax-cut package will bolster economic growth in the United States. They also praised Koizumi’s tough-minded reform package dealing with that country’s decade-long economic slump.
—Pledged to get personally involved in the effort to launch a new global trade round, hoping to rebound from the failed effort to launch the talks in Seattle in December 1999. They said that the new talks should be aimed at providing poor nations with better access to world markets.
—Praised Turkey and Argentina for wrestling with financial crises.