G-8 Protests in Germany Turn Violent
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:
Riots erupted today in Germany near the site of next week's summit of the Group of Eight. Tens and thousands of demonstrators descended on the northern city of Rostock. They were mostly peaceful, but some masked protesters attacked police with rocks and bottles, leaving 140 officers hurt.
Hardy Graupner is a reporter for the German network DW. He joins us on the line now from Rostock. Can you describe the scene for us there today?
Mr. HARDY GRAUPNER (Reporter, DW German Network): Well, interested most protesters here in Rostock have really been extremely peaceful throughout the day - a very colorful street festival. And then all of a sudden, the scene turned violent, to trade off with the arrival of about 2,000 to 3,000 potentially violent people decided to go after policemen, attacks them with stones that caught on fire, shattered shop windows in the city's center.
The police took about 10 minutes to react and then they answered with water cannons, (unintelligible) clubs and tear gas. And they had to do so otherwise, we would have - probably, we would have seen another many people injured but also people dead at the end of the day.
ELLIOTT: So what is their - what are they there to do other than cause trouble? Are they protesting the G8?
Mr. GRAUPNER: Nothing. Nothing. They had nothing. Absolutely, nothing. They have nothing to do with the G8. They have no political objectives, none of that. They are just anarchists. They - it's known that they mainly come from the two German cities of Berlin and Hamburg. They've been in the scene for quite a while, for two or three decades even. They are well organized and as I said, they have a long history of fighting the police and do battle with the police.
ELLIOTT: Now, the other protesters who were there to make some sort of a political statement against the G8, how do they react when these anarchists come in and caused this kind of trouble?
Mr. GRAUPNER: They've been calling on all sides concerned to see to it that there would be no escalation. And, of course, they're pretty much disappointed when they saw their own protest action turned violent. That's the last thing they had wanted, of course. And largely, I believe, the messages voiced party, of peaceful protesters will go unnoticed, certainly unnoticed.
ELLIOTT: What are the other protesters talking about? What is their message?
Mr. GRAUPNER: Oh, there's got a whole range of issues they've been debating throughout the day. By and large, they do not oppose the agenda that's been fixed for the G8 Summit at Heiligendamm. But they say it should be - some of the issues should be debated in a different manner. They definitely are concerned about climate protection. They are concerned about climate change. They want more climate protection. They are concerned about debt cancellation. They wanted a better deal for the world's poorer nations and a whole number of other issues too.
ELLIOTT: Hardy Graupner is a reporter with the German network, DW. Thank you for talking with us.
Mr. GRAUPNER: Thanks to you.
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ELLIOTT: After the headlines, a peek under the microscope at the microbe that preoccupied the nation this week. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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