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Georgia G-8 Protests Look to Be Big

Many activists around the world are aware that the G-8 Summit is to be held on Sea Island, just off the rural coastline of Georgia, June 8th through 10th. However, there has been relatively little talk of the large numbers of activists coming together to oppose it as Europeans did when the G-8 met in Genoa, Italy in 2001.

Georgia G-8 Protests Look to Be Big

First in a series of reports on the G-8 and the Brunswick Protests for those who wish to familiarize themselves with the G-8 summit site and its surrounding area and issues.

Jamie "Bork" Loughner
Infoshop News (www.infoshop.org/inews)

May 9, 2004, Southern Georgia -- Many activists around the world are aware that the G-8 Summit is to be held on Sea Island, just off the rural coastline of Georgia, June 8th through 10th. However, there has been relatively little talk of the large numbers of activists coming together to oppose it as Europeans did when the G-8 met in Genoa, Italy in 2001. Instead the general “buzz? has been that significant protests will not be able to take place there due to the remoteness and supposed defensibility of the summit site. Some even feel that the G-8 summit--the meeting of the eight most powerful/wealthiest nation's leaders to decide policies that will affect the entire world, is somehow not important enough to focus on, or that its placement in a small rural area precludes any meaningful activist opposition to it. Bullshit!

The buzz has it wrong. I have spent several days interviewing non-activist and activist residents of Brunswick, St. Simons Island, and even Sea Island. I believe that, however large, there will be an important resistance to corporate dominance and governmental imperialism happening in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Ga., sited at the only entrance to the causeway road first leading to St. Simons Island and then to Sea Island just a few miles away. The opinions range from fears regarding security measures to enthusiasm that some attention will be focused on how corporate globalization is affecting this rural area.

The work that has already been done to prepare for the event has already resulted in important dialogue and alliances between southeastern anarchists and other activists and a rising awareness of the added poverty and environmental damages that corporate globalization has imposed upon this region.

Despite [or maybe because of] the fact that Brunwick is one of the municipalities near Sea Island that has adopted a new set of ordinances to try to “handle? protesters and keep public gatherings short and small, there will be plenty of opportunities for protest and direct action. Some actions such as the G8 Fix Shit Up action [g8fixshitup-subscribe@lists.riseup.net] called for by the Southeast Anarchist Network are helping to win over even some of the more fearful non-political residents. This action calls for a force of activists to spend their protest time renovating houses and doing important environmental cleanup, thus addressing some of the area's most desperate needs. Needs that are even more important due to county and state tax money being diverted to feed the humongous costs of hosting the G-8 summit. Poor residents who suffer from lack of affordable food, safe housing, and dirt roads cannot help but resent the hundreds of full-grown palm trees and other landscaping added to privatized lands and public roadways and millions of local dollars spent to increase the comfort of G-8 attendees.

This rural area--forced by a powerful local corporation to host the G-8 meeting--vividly illustrates the negative impact of current economic policies of the G-8 governments. The private resort of Sea Island is an elite resort area with beautiful beaches and world renowned golf courses. However, the sharp contrast between the manicured lawns and quaint housing found both here and in most of the neighboring St Simons’s Island, and the poorest sections of the adjacent town of Brunswick where most of the service workers live in dilapidated housing, is vivid and disturbing. The Brunswick Wal-mart--which closed down many local small businesses--pays poorly in an area where housing prices have skyrocketed. The wages for service workers at many of the hotels and restaurants of the tourist islands have failed to increase while living costs climb sharply. Now, due to G-8 security, service workers at the island resorts, golf courses, restaurants, and small businesses are being forced to take anywhere from one to three weeks off of work, despite living from paycheck to paycheck.

Corporate globalization plus poor conservation, pollution and over-harvesting has resulted in a progressive loss of the once thriving shrimp industry in Brunswick. Seapak and King Shrimp used to buy enough seafood to support a thriving local industry, but due to globalization not enough local shrimp is being bought to sustain local fishing communities. Ecologically devastating shrimp farms in third world countries are so much cheaper because of lower wages that the local shrimpers just can’t compete. This makes tourism an even more vital part of the local economy, but the summit will disrupt tourism for at least a week or more.

Environmental issues here affect everyone from the wealthy Sea Islanders, who are concerned about their island’s sea turtles sensitivity to local water pollution, to the poor children of Brunswick, who endure ill health due to their schools' location next to one of the 20 worst toxic waste sites in the country. Four Superfund sites are found in the small-town area of Brunswick alone. Waters which used to provide bountiful fish to feed those who could not afford groceries are now poisoned so thoroughly as to be inedible except by the desperate and foolhardy. More then 1000 acres of forest have been clear-cut in the Brunswick area in the last 3 months alone. Racism--which is vividly apparent here in plantation country--is particularly visible when the environmental dump locations are considered.. Dixville, a section of Brunswick which houses many of the poorest people of color, is located near the Hercules plant, one of the worst polluters in the state.

These issues and more will be addressed by those protesters who chose to come and oppose the G-8 summit. Considering the size of the community, amazing amount of effort have been put into organizing for the Brunswick protest events by local activists. They include a 10-day march from Florida to Brunswick by the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, ending on June 5th; a Fair World Fair, (formerly G8 Carnival) in Brunswick, Georgia starting June 6th and intended to be a model for productive educational alternatives in globalization; the Anarchist-led Fix Shit Up Action to aid the local community; an interfaith prayer service for Social Justice planned for June 7th; a Brunswick portion of the TOES Summit, an international non-governmental forum for the presentation, discussion, and advocacy of the economic ideas and practices upon which a more just and sustainable society can be built; and an edgy, exciting Rally and March Against the Summit and the War.


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