G8 leaders condemn violence as protesters, police clash
GENOA, Italy (CNN) -- Riot police launched canisters of tear gas Saturday at about 2,000 protesters trying to breach a safety perimeter a day after one man was killed during demonstrations outside the Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy.
A wall of riot police holding shields prevented the demonstrators from entering the perimeter of the "red zone," about a mile outside the 13th-century palace where the leaders of the world's seven wealthiest industrialized countries and Russia met for the second day of a three-day conference.
Ninety-three people were wounded Saturday, including eight police. Police arrested 36 demonstrators.
Saturday's demonstrations kicked off early in the afternoon, when tens of thousands of largely peaceful demonstrators representing some 700 groups gathered to express their displeasure at world trade, which many feel exploits the people of poor countries.
Police estimates put the crowd size at 100,000; organizers estimated the size at 150,000.
As they marched, hundreds of extremists broke off from the larger group and set fires in plastic garbage cans, overturned cars, broke shop windows and hurled stones at police. Some called the police assassins, referring to the killing by police Friday of Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old Roman who lived in Genoa.
The Italian Interior Ministry said the demonstrator was shot twice in the head in an act of self defense by a member of Italy's national police force, or the "carabinieri." The ministry promised to release results of an investigation into the killing Monday.
Though the demonstrators were not visible to the world leaders, their message was heard. The conferees issued a statement Saturday expressing "sorrow and regret" at the killing and urging demonstrators to reject violence.
"We have always respected people's right to legitimate protest," said the statement. "We recognize and praise the role that peaceful protest and argument have played, for example in putting issues like debt relief on the international agenda. But we condemn firmly and absolutely the violence overflowing into anarchy of a small minority that we have seen at work here in Genoa and at recent international meetings."
The leaders said it was "vitally important that democratically elected leaders legitimately representing millions of people can meet to discuss areas of common concern."
The group pledged to focus on "issues that matter most" to their people, noting the economy, jobs, trade and help for the poorest countries.
The world leaders met during the morning in the palace, then ate lunch before walking through the streets of the seaside resort.
Some expressed frustration with the complaints of the demonstrators, noting that the leaders are working to devise ways to stimulate the economies of developing nations, and announced Friday they had set up a $1 billion global fund to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases.
About 5,000 of the estimated 150,000 demonstrators are considered extremists, a top U.S. law enforcement official told CNN.
Meanwhile, the official said, several thousand peaceful protesters have left Genoa because of the violence.
At a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, U.S. President George W. Bush called the killing "a tragic loss that occurred. It's also tragic that many police officers have been hurt, men and women who are trying to protect democratically elected leaders and our necessary right to be able to discuss our common problems."
He added, "Those who claim to represent the voices of the poor aren't doing so."
In addition to meeting with Chirac, Bush met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The two discussed criticism of Bush's decision not to comply with the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases and his push for a U.S. missile defense system.
"We both agreed to reduce greenhouse gases and we both agreed to continue dialogue" on how to do that, Bush told reporters. "Our nation will come up with a strategy. We're in the process of developing one."
In his weekly radio address taped here and broadcast in the United States, Bush said, "Despite trade's proven track record for lifting the lives of the poor, some still oppose it. They seek to deny the poor and developing countries their best hope for escaping poverty."
Bush called labor and environment issues "legitimate concerns" that "should be discussed and will be," and said the developing world has "no need for protectionist policies that would condemn them to permanent poverty."
Bush also said his administration is increasing funding for international education assistance programs by 20 percent, and will launch an effort to improve education and teacher training in Africa.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said before the summit that, because of the cost of security, it may be the last of its kind.
Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien, host of next year's planned meeting, said no site has been chosen.
-- CNN correspondents Alessio Vinci and Kelly Wallace contributed to this report
|Back to the top|