At a council meeting yesterday councillors spent an hour and half discussing the summit and protests but despite the presence of people on the Police Authority still no one could confirm or deny the protest bans.
Ostensibly the bans are for security reasons - meaning they don't want rioting or worse. One Labour councillor alluded to the protests in Genoa when he mentioned that people have been killed at these protests. Whether this comment was simple stupidity or a deliberate attempt to mislead it was nonetheless dishonest. The only person killed in Genoa was killed by the police, and 200,000 people visited the city from all over the world. The midweek protests in Sheffield are likely to be made up predominately by local people and number in the hundreds or less not thousands. The police know this. Estimates for a recent protest at the G8 Environmental conference put the number at less than 100.
So why the Draconian measures? Some people have speculated that they may be at the request of the US. This would be consistent with the policing style in the US and with US requests for various extreme measures for the main G8 summit in Gleneagles next month. Another possibility is that the G8 are simply fed up. Since they last met in Birmingham in 1998 they have been met by wave after wave of protest everywhere they go, from Canada and the US to France and Italy and now again in England. As the G8 presidency returns to Britain it is now the eighth year in a row and the protests are showing no signs of dying down. This enduring consistency may at last be getting to them. To stop the protests a mixture of criminalisation, scaremonging and simple repression are used to put people off attending protests.
But these too have their problems as yesterdays heated council debate has shown.
Sheffield Star, Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
Anti-war Group Plans Protest:
Petition starts over G8 summit in Nether Edge Hotel
Groups opposing the conference of the G8 Justice & Interior Ministers in Sheffield next month are preparing one of the biggest protests in the city for years.
The Stop the War Coalition today started a 'G8 Not Welcome Here' petition which they said was being eagerly signed by hundreds of people angry at the disruption that the conference will cause.
Many groups from anarchists to churchgoers are expected to take part in protests leading up to and during the conference being held at the Marriott Hotel in Nether Edge between June 15th & 17th.
The Stop the War Coalition said the G8 Justice and Interior ministers were "some of the loudest cheerleaders of the war on terror"
A coalition spokesman added: "This G8 ministerial, held in Sheffield at the invitation of the previous home secretary David Blunkett, will discuss the domestic impact of the ‘war on terror’. In Britain our experience under Charles Clarke is the implementation of control orders and potentially ID cards - the beginnings of the erosion of our civil liberties."
The public gallery at Sheffield Town Hall is expected to be packed with protesters during the full council meeting in June when the petition will be presented to councillors.
Sheffield Council is supporting the summit and is staging a gala dinner for delegates at the Millennium Galleries and Winter Garden on June 15.
The Stop the War Coalition, along with other campaigning organisations has called a march for Peace and justice on Saturday June 11, assembling at Devonshire Green at 10.30am.
The coalition spokesman added, "In a city that has a proud record of standing up for peace & justice, the G8 Justice and Interior ministers summit is not welcome here.
"We oppose a summit that discusses the further prosecution of the war on terror and support the march.
"We beleave the summit will cause major disruption to the city centre at a massive cost to the taxpayer just to ensure that the G8 ministers have the most luxurious stay possible. Not even the city council was consulted on the summit taking place here".
Interior and Justice ministers from America, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia will meet from June 15 th 17 to discuss ways of improving international security and combating terrorism.
Police are planning a huge security operation in the city centre and round the hotel in Nether Edge. They have said peaceful protests will be allowed outside the security cordon.
Sheffield Star, 30 May 2005
Anti-war campaign's anger over G8 'ban'
ANTI-War campaigners today accused police of banning them from protesting in
Sheffield city centre when some of the world's most powerful politicians
Sheffield Stop the War Coalition say they have been told by police they will not be allowed to protest outside the Winter Garden and Cutler's Hall later this month when G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministers attend gala dinners.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said protests had not been banned - but nobody would be allowed within a cordon surrounding the events for security reasons. Protestors said they are "surprised and angered" because they wanted to peacefully protest within earshot of the politicians.
A coalition spokeswoman said: "We are mystified as to why they are making this move now. Sheffield Stop the War Coalition has a proud record in this city of peaceful protests. We have had thousands of people on the streets in recent years without any problems." He said: "This is a very serious attack on the right to protest. It appears to be part of an attempt to ensure the war in Iraq is not raised during the G8. "We want to deliver a message to them that they should 'Fight Poverty Not War'. We intend to defend our right to protest."
But South Yorkshire Police insist no ban had been imposed. A spokesman added: "Our aim is to facilitate lawful and peaceful protest not ban it. However we have the powers to stop people gathering in certain places and there is no reason why people should be allowed within the security cordon that will be placed around the Winter Garden and Cutler's Hall."
He added that police were assisting the coalition in organising a protest march from the city centre to the General Cemetery in Sharrow on June 11.
Meanwhile, people living near the Sheffield hotel due to stage conference will need special passes to allow them into their homes. Enwood Road in Nether Edge will be closed to the public from June 13 - two days before dignitaries are due to arrive for the international conference at the Marriott Hotel.
The street will be kept under police guard to keep potential troublemakers away from those due to attend.
Sheffield is hosting the G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting from June 15 to 17, where ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and America will discuss issues including terrorism.