KUEHLUNGSBORN, Germany—If the game was cat and mouse, the mice won.
The protesters at the summit of leaders of eight major industrial countries failed to disrupt the meeting at a Baltic resort near this north German town, but they were able to breach the restricted sea area set up by police.
Greenpeace activists and trained speedboat drivers managed to penetrate the Baltic security cordon in a series of high-speed chases. Their stated intent was to deliver a climate change petition to the G-8 leaders. The boats never made it to shore, but activists did unfurl "G-8 Act Now" banners near the exclusive resort where the leaders met.
The challenge on land was a lot tougher—a six-mile-wide "protester-free" zone that surrounded a 7.5-mile-long security fence. A German court ruled that the one protest allowed near the fence had to be 220 yards from it—so getting inside the zone, and perhaps even reaching the fence, became the goals of the protest.
Protesters sneaked through fields and forests, dodging police searching for them. Many slept on country roads to block access. They also marched down the roads at police lines, only to break in five groups just before making contact and confuse police efforts to corral them.
Protesters—who were objecting to globalization, the failure to curb global warming and the secrecy surrounding the summit talks—dressed like clowns, angels or ninja and danced before police, who for the most part were very patient. The protesters claimed success at least in receiving media attention.
"This was one of the most spectacular protests in the history of Germany," Tim Laymeyer, spokesman for the Block G-8 Alliance, said Thursday night. "It was a full success. We are very happy. We blocked all access roads into Heiligendamm. We really made a difference."
Not that President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the other world leaders would have noticed. They arrived not by car but by helicopter.
The protest seemed to conclude on a far quieter note than it opened last weekend, when almost 500 police and more than 500 protesters were injured during running, rock-throwing battles in the streets of nearby Rostock.
In fact, organizers said the estimated 14,000 protesters, compared to an estimated 16,000 police, were breaking up Thursday night and heading into nearby Rostock early Friday. They said many folks had drifted into Rostock Thursday night for a concert featuring Bono, Bob Geldof and Die Toten Hosen (in English, the Dead Pants). Others, they said, were planning to attend a closing protest rally Friday, also in Rostock.
(c) 2007, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.