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Germany

Police Tactics Under Fire After Violent Anti-G8 Demonstrations

As the dust settles in Rostock after Saturday's violent demonstrations, politicians and globalization critics alike are critical of both the militant demonstrators and the police's strategy.

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Nearly 1,000 people were injured when anti-G8 demonstrations on Saturday turned violent

Intense debate has arisen over police strategy after anti-globalization demonstrations turned violent over the weekend in the northern city of Rostock.

"We have to seriously think about whether a de-escalation strategy is still called for," Wolfgang Speck, chairman of the German Police Union (DPolG), said in Monday's edition of the daily Oldenburgische Volkszeitung.

Deutschland G8 Großdemonstration in Rostock Clown

Who is provoking who?


Police have been accused of provoking the demonstrators, while other say the police weren't proactive enough in quelling the outbreak of violence.

Parliamentarian Dieter Wiefelspütz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) defended the police's de-escalation strategy in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung published Monday. "We can't pour more gasoline on the fire," he said.

Wiefelspütz was, however, also critical of the police. "I don't want to make accusations, but the question has to be asked, whether the police behaved professionally or not," he told Berlins daily Tagesspiegel.

Germany's left wing has been particularly critical of the police's response to Saturday's demonstrations, where 433 of those injured were police officers.

"The state should not allow itself to be provoked to over-reaction during the summit,"
Green party chairwoman Renate Künast told parliament.

Demonstrators lack violence-prevention plan

Deutschland G8 Großdemonstration in Rostock Vermummter Steinewerfer

Some demonstrators pelted police with stones


Attac, an organization critical of globalization which was involved in the demonstrations in Rostock, apologized for the violent turn the event took. Attac organizer Werner Rätz told the online version of the Frankfurter Rundschau that his group did not have a concrete concept of how to deal with violent demonstrators.

Law enforcement officials and politicians have urged the peaceful anti-globalization demonstrators to partner with the police and avoid hindering tactics such as peaceful blockades.

One of the problems is that "it's really difficult to take action against violent demonstrators who hide behind peaceful demonstrators," said Schleswig-Holstein's interior minister Ralf Stegner (SPD). He told the Frankfurter Rundschau that he didn't see a viable alternative to the de-escalation strategy.

Appeal to lift no-demonstration zone

Deutschland G8 Großdemonstration in Rostock Friedenszeichen

Demonstration leaders have said they can't do anything about the violence


Globalization critics called early Monday for a last-minute repeal of the no-demonstration zone surrounding the G8 summit meeting place in the resort town of Heiligendamm in northern Germany. Currently, demonstrations are not allowed within several kilometers of the site.

Knut Abramowski, the head of the G8 police unit Kavala, has said that some 2,000 potentially violent demonstrators are still in Rostock, many of whom were among those active on Saturday.

"I'm counting on the worst," said Konrad Freiberg of the GdP police union in the daily Bild-Zeitung of demonstrations expected to surround the G8 summit. "It's a spiral of violence."

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