Savannah pigeons

The first day the Group of Eight (G8) world leaders gathered for their June summit in Sea Island, Georgia, three protesters walked down the streets of nearby Savannah carrying a sign that read: ‘Say no to pigeons!’

‘Pigeons have more rights in Savannah than we do,’ claimed Antonio Burks, one of the protesters. ‘I can’t even go in the street where I work because of the police – but the pigeons can!’

Policing these three protesters cost American taxpayers hundreds of dollars a minute. Citing the possibility of violence or terrorism, police mobilized 25,000 security officials and spent $25 million. The town of Savannah was virtually closed down. But the biggest protest included no more than 250 activists.

The police crackdown was the same model as was used at the November 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) protest in Florida. Miami police waited months before issuing permits and then ‘pre-emptively’ arrested hundreds of activists. Protesters may have decided to travel to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions rather than Savannah.

Benjamin Dangl

New Internationalist issue 371 magazine cover This article is from the September 2004 issue of New Internationalist.
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