ROSTOCK, Germany, (AP) -Buses and trains from across Europe streamed into the northern port city of Rostock on Saturday, bringing thousands of protesters to the largest-yet demonstration over the upcoming G-8 meeting of industrialized powers.
Some 13,000 police were on hand, and organizers said they expect up to 100,000 protesters for the daylong demonstration under the motto “another world is possible.”
“The world shaped by the dominance of the G-8 is a world of war, hunger, social divisions, environmental destruction and barriers against migrants and refugees,” organizers said in leaflets handed out on the streets. “We want to protest against this and show the alternatives.”
Dozens of different groups, including communists, anarchists and environmentalists, were taking part and messages were mixed: Some urged action from the G-8 countries in the fight against HIV/AIDS, African poverty and climate change, while others questioned the legitimacy of the existence of the G-8 itself.
The protest comes ahead of the three-day summit that opens Wednesday in the nearby northern resort town of Heiligendamm, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts the leaders of the other G-8 nations — Britain, France, Japan, Italy, Russia, Canada, and the United States.
In the morning, protesters were gathering at two meeting points in town, to march along two different three-mile routes into downtown Rostock and converge in the late afternoon at the harbor for speeches, followed by a concert.
Protester Kay Stenzel got up at 3 a.m. to drive in from the eastern city of Bautzen with four friends to voice his discontent with the G-8 leaders.
“They want to impose their wills upon the poor nations,” he said at the meeting point outside Rostock’s main train station.
He waved a red flag onto which he had painted a black cat, an animal he chose because it was “unruly.”
On their Web site, organizers emphasized that they wanted a peaceful protest.
“There is no reason to be afraid to come to the big demonstration in Rostock,” they said. “We will have a very big, very colorful and very strong demonstrations. We do not expect major problems with the police.”
They then added, however: “This may be different with the actions following later in the week of protest.”