June 10th, 2007, 06:26 PM
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Greenpeace aren't good at bumper boats
Video link: Protesters thrown overboard after police ram Greenpeace vessels
Protesters thrown overboard after police ram Greenpeace vessels
By Tony Paterson in Heiligendamm
Published: 08 June 2007
Protests at Germany's G8 summit took a spectacular turn yesterday as police launched a high-speed boat chase through the Baltic and rammed two Greenpeace inflatable speed boats which had breached a maritime security zone, pitching crew members overboard and injuring three.
Dramatic television footage of the chase shot from helicopters showed a small armada of Greenpeace inflatable boats driven by outboard motors speeding into a 10-kilometre wide security zone off the seaside resort of Heiligendamm hosting the summit, taking police patrol boats completely by surprise.
After some delay, five high-powered police vessels went in hot pursuit of the Greenpeace intruders in a chase worthy of a James Bond film. For at least 10 minutes, the police and Greenpeace played a game of seaborne cat and mouse, churning the deep green waters of the Baltic white with their spiralling boat wakes.
The chase was brought to an abrupt halt when the biggest and most powerful police vessel, a 30-foot long Swedish built "Combat boat" capable of 50 knots - rammed and swamped one of the Greenpeace inflatables and pitched all four of the boat's oilskin-clad crew into the sea. Three of the crew were injured in the ramming and had to be taken to hospital.
In another encounter, the police boat swamped a second Greenpeace inflatable and stopped it. The activists unfurled a banner reading "G8-act now."
Daniel Mittler of Greenpeace Germany said the environmental protest group had wanted to deliver a petition to the G8 leaders by sea. "The G8 countries have caused most climate change and their leaders should face up to their responsibilities. The world is tired of empty words and demands action now," he said.
However Greenpeace later denounced the police decision to ram their craft as "totally irresponsible".
Greenpeace's success in breaching the summit's security zone marked another defeat for the 16,000 police drafted in from throughout Germany for the meeting of G8 leaders in the Baltic town of Heiligendamm. By the time world leaders had arrived at the summit on Wednesday, thousands of anti-G8 protesters had breached the security zone on the land side and managed to block all roads leading to the venue.
Yesterday, police allowed anti-G8 protesters to get right up to the eight mile- long razor-wire fence surrounding the summit. But they used water cannon and baton charges to clear demonstrators staging sit- down blockades on roads leading to the town. Protesters flew banners condemning G8 leaders as "criminals" and daubed the words "Evil Empire" over a road sign bearing the name of Heiligendamm.
Police, who said they had made more than 160 arrests during clashes with demonstrators, admitted yesterday that they were exhausted and had decided to reduce security operations in areas that were non essential. "W0000 people flocked to an anti-G8 concert entitled " Voice against Poverty" featuring U2 singer Bono and the German rock star Herbert Groenemeyer in the port city of Rostock in the afternoon. Singers and artists from eight of the world's poorest countries were invited to perform at the event.
Last edited by Ebs; June 10th, 2007 at 06:30 PM.