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G8 protest draws small crowd

By Andy Walton
CNN
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 Posted: 3:22 AM EDT (0722 GMT)

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Protesters gather Tuesday at a Savannah, Georgia, park.
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SAVANNAH, Georgia (CNN) -- Marking the start of the Group of Eight Summit, several dozen protesters gathered Tuesday in Savannah's Forsyth Park, flanked by almost as many members of the media.

Though their numbers were tiny compared with demonstrations at previous G8 meetings, the marchers were defiant, chanting "Whose streets? Our streets!" as they made their way through the streets of the coastal historic city. Police on foot and horseback lined the route of the march.

Using plastic buckets as drums, the marchers carried banners with slogans such as "Anti-capitalism" and "G8=profits over people." Other banners and placards blasted the Bush administration and alleged a U.S. government cover-up in the 9/11 attacks.

Savannah residents watched from porches and sidewalks, many with cameras.

G8 leaders are meeting at Sea Island, a resort off the Georgia coast 80 miles south of Savannah. Iraq and other Middle East issues are likely to be high on the agenda. (Full story)

Organizers appeared upbeat, saying that bringing off the march at all was a challenge.

"This situation should not have happened in Savannah, but we made it happen," one organizer said from a stage at the park. "The people who made it were people from Savannah."

Attorney and activist Joyce Griggs said the state of Georgia and local governments had attempted to block the protests by refusing to issue permits. Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue declared a controversial state of emergency in counties of coastal Georgia.

Griggs also said she believes the high-profile presence of law enforcement officers is intended to send a message. "Look around. It's like martial law, really," she said. "It was to intimidate the people -- to keep them from coming out or to [get them to] leave town.

"The park should have been packed, the streets should have been packed to show that we represent First Amendment rights as a people in this great country," Griggs said. "Am I disappointed? To a degree, but not really."

Before the march began, a group of masked protesters sat on the grass and played a game of "duck, duck, goose" as cameras rolled. "$25 million for a game of tag," referring to the security budget for the summit.

Concerts and a series of speakers were scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and evening at Forsyth Park.

Brunswick, a small inland city near Sea Island, also drew protesters Tuesday as G8 leaders began to gather for the three-day summit, according to The Associated Press.



Copyright 2004 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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