Wednesday, June 09, 2004

King of the Mountain

Savannah NOW:

As Savannah's River Street restaurants sat nearly empty, encircled by ominous cement and metal barricades, on the first day of the G-8 Sea Island Summit, a homeland security advisor for President Bush apologized for the inconvenience.

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But those who make their living off the usual flow of tourists on River Street are looking around this week and wondering if the 5-foot security gates, dozens of armed police officers, and U.S. Coast Guard gunboats on the Savannah River is overkill.

Savannah makes most of its money from tourism, so it's ironic that the G8 Summit, the meeting of the world's 8 wealthiest countries in order to discuss financial and world issues, is taking a major chunk out of the economy of a town, merely with its presence. Savannah city planners had hoped that the summit's proximity and the hosting of the media and security personal would be a huge financial gain, that they'd be rolling in the Big Media Money. But so far, all their plans have fallen through.

Even their absurd precautions for the throngs of evil, un-American protesters failed to yield anything substantial. The city charged protesters registration fees and a tax, hid mail boxes (which is a federal crime if I remember…) and generally made it a Herculean effort to be a citizen and express their first amendment right to gather peaceably. Even that's backfired, as their draconian tactics have driven away the protesters. That and the fact that the actual Summit is an hour and a half drive south on Sea Island and any of the real protesters are going to Brunswick, which is the next town over from the island.

On top of that, the police outnumber the protesters in Savannah by dozens, which is a potential problem in itself. Imagine a bored cop, made to wear riot gear in the Georgia heat of summer and there's no rioters. Along come some wayward hippies who couldn't find their way to Brunswick and you've got a smack-down waiting to happen.

Not that protesting the G8 is really a smart move anyway. It's like getting angry at your pinky for something your hand did. The G8 is a symptom of imperialism and enthrallment to corporate greed, not the cause of it and assuming you actually could get anywhere within twenty miles of one of the jerks in the thousand dollar suits, anything you yell in a rhythmic chant from behind your cardboard placard will have zero effect. You're just poor trash to them, the receptacle for what meager wealth they haven't squeezed out of the economy, yet.

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