Protesters In Falmouth Urge G-7 Leaders To Tackle Sea Conservation, Myanmar And More
SCOTT DETROW, HOST:
The annual G-7 meeting is a magnet for protesters of all stripes, and this year's summit of leaders of seven of the world's largest economies is no different. We turn to NPR's Frank Langfitt, who is traveling back by train from several days in the English county of Cornwall. Good morning, Frank.
FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, Scott.
DETROW: Are you in a Pikachu costume like some of the protesters were on the train?
LANGFITT: I did actually interview someone in a Pikachu costume, so you're obviously very, very well-informed. But no, I'm just riding back to London.
DETROW: Describe who came to the protests and what you saw.
LANGFITT: Yeah, it was really - it was a really interesting day, Scott. It started off with actually a bunch of surfers - hundreds and hundreds of surfers on the beach. Cornwall is known for surfing at some beautiful beaches, and they were out - there's a group called Surfers Against Sewage, and it was really about protecting marine life. And people paddled out on surfboards, kayaks, paddle boards all the way out, did a big circle. There was a huge shark - an inflatable shark people were riding that said eat people, not plastic. And what they were arguing for and hoping the G-7 leaders would listen to the idea of protecting 30% of the world's oceans by 2030 and basically finding ways to control them better to stop industrial trawlers coming and picking up all the fish. Later on, Extinction Rebellion - it's a big climate climate action group - they had a huge march through town. There was a drum corps, a jazz trio and sea shanties - because Cornwall, of course, has a really big relationship to the sea. So it felt me a little bit like - you know, in some ways like a festival.
DETROW: What other issues were people pushing?
LANGFITT: You know, it's really interesting too because I was driving around town, I saw people driving along with these big, big flags and I didn't initially recognize them as the flags of a region in Ethiopia called Tigray. And people there were asking for more humanitarian aid for this region, which has been suffering appalling violence during a civil war which Eyder Peralta, our correspondent in Nairobi, has covered very well. Burmese protesters were protesting the military - Myanmar military taking over in a coup back in February. So I think a lot of people came here thinking, you know, I want to get the attention of these leaders, it's a rare time that they're all together, and trying to make a lot of noise.
DETROW: Frank, did you get a sense that these messages got through to the leaders at all? Of course, there's hundreds and hundreds of yards, maybe kilometers between these protests and where the leaders...
DETROW: ...Even more?
LANGFITT: ...Even more. It's 25 miles.
LANGFITT: They were in...
DETROW: That being said...
DETROW: ...Was Joe Biden getting this message in any way, shape or form?
LANGFITT: Only if he was watching TV, and I'm sure he was incredibly busy with his summits and meeting with all these different leaders. And one of the things I've seen - I covered this back in France two years ago - is that recently the G-7 has chosen these sort of more obscure locations where it's harder for people to get to. Plus COVID, so you didn't see the kinds of numbers that you used to see. If you go way back years, you'd have tens, hundreds of thousands of people coming to the G-7. This time I saw maybe, you know, I don't know, five, 10 thousand people at most.
DETROW: NPR's Frank Langfitt, our London correspondent, joining us as he travels on train through England. I trust it's not the Hogwarts Express, sadly. Frank, thank you for joining us.
LANGFITT: Great to talk, Scott.
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