Thursday, June 03, 2004

A kinder, gentler protest?

And now from the Wall Street Journal, a report on a new trend in protests in the U.S.?

Antiglobal Protesters Try New Tactics: Tea and Pudding
As Georgia Girds for G-8, Groups Show Gentler Side; Anarchists Fixing Homes?

June 2, 2004; Page A1

SEA ISLAND, Ga. -- Ever since President Bush picked this resort for the summit of the Group of Eight leading nations next week, authorities here have been on the lookout for a swarm of unruly protesters. So when Carol Bass showed up in her floral skirt and silver peace-symbol pendant at a town-hall meeting in April, local police moved in quickly and refused to let her and fellow activists hand out their leaflets.

As it turned out, Ms. Bass's flier was an invitation to a "Meet the Protesters" potluck supper in a nearby church fellowship hall, and the word got out anyway. At the gathering the next night, after spaghetti, sweet tea and banana pudding, organizers coaxed County Commissioner Cap Fendig to play homemade trivia games. (Sample question: How many windows were broken during the 2002 G-8 meeting in Canada? Answer: zero.)

Antiglobalization protesters brought violent disruptions to the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999 and the G-8 summits in Genoa, Italy, in 2001 and in Evian, France, last year. But the protesters making the trek to Brunswick, Ga., the industrial port town (population 16,000) nearest the secluded resort island, so far promise to be distinctly milder.

The Southeast Anarchist Network is urging members to "show anarchy in action" by repairing local homes. Another group, Citizens G-8 Hospitality Committee, issued a "call for no violence and no property destruction" at the summit. Food Not Bombs, a group espousing "nonviolent social change," plans to distribute vegetarian meals.

"Do I look like I'm going to throw rocks?" asked Susan Hunt, a petite, bespectacled organizer of a meeting of left-leaning academics who call themselves The Other Economic Summit, or TOES.

Authorities are still ready for more serious protest next week, mindful that it takes just a few violent protesters or overzealous policemen to unleash chaos at such a high-security event. But early signs are that the armies of militant antiglobalists that toured from one international confab to another, starting in the late 1990s, may be simmering down in the U.S....