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Water cannons used on G-8 protesters
Question of the Day
HINTER BOLLHAGEN, Germany — Police used water cannons to scatter stone-throwing demonstrators yesterday as several thousand protesters gathered at a seven-mile fence surrounding the Group of Eight summit.
About 10,000 demonstrators had reached the fence by the afternoon, police said, while about 9,000 protesters blocked roads leading from the airport to the summit site of Heiligendamm in northern Germany as President Bush and other leaders arrived for the first day of the three-day meeting.
At least eight officers were injured in clashes with protesters, police spokesman Lueder Behrens said, but none seriously. There was no word on injuries among demonstrators.
Police said the protesters bypassed security checkpoints to reach the fence, but they had not breached the barrier itself. At one section, protesters chanted “peace” and “free G-8” while riot police wearing helmets and holding transparent shields massed inside.
“What they’re doing behind that fence is illegitimate,” said Philipp Schweizer, a 26-year-old social worker from Munich. “They’re making decisions about countries who don’t have any representation.”
Some protesters pelted two police control points with stones before authorities turned the water cannons on them, police spokesman Manfred Luetjann said.
“We wanted to prevent this from happening but now they are there and we are handling it,” Mr. Luetjann told the Associated Press by telephone, declining to say whether there were any arrests.
Police held the leashes of dogs as they watched more than 150 protesters near the small town of Hinter Bollhagen, less than two miles from the summit site.
Elsewhere, a group laid branches across a railway used to transport journalists to Heiligendamm from the summit center in nearby Kuehlungsborn, while thousands of protesters blocked the main traffic routes around Heiligendamm and the Rostock airport, Mr. Behrens said.
After the protesters rushed to the fence, Germany’s constitutional court upheld a lower court’s ban on a protest march that would have begun at various points and converged on Heiligendamm. The Karlsruhe-based federal court upheld a ban against protests within 200 yards of the fence.
Yesterday’s incidents came after a protest Saturday in nearby Rostock, where several thousand black-hooded protesters hurled rocks and bottles at police near the end of a march and rally by 25,000 people. About 400 police officers were injured.
A police spokesman, Frank Scheulen, said most of the demonstrators who had reached the fence yesterday were peaceful, “but of course we have to assume that there could be potentially violent protesters among them.”
“We will take all necessary measures” to ensure the security, he said.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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