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G7 protesters are facing an “intensive policing operation” this weekend, campaigners have warned, with officers arresting seven people before demonstrations had even begun.
Police have been accused of harassing and intimidating campaigners in the run-up to the meeting of world leaders in Cornwall on Friday.
Officers arrested seven members of Animal Rebellion, an animal rights branch of Extinction Rebellion, on Thursday after stopping and searching their vehicles.
Devon and Cornwall Police said it had found paint and flares during the search, and made arrests on suspicion of possessing items to commit criminal damage and conspiracy to commit public nuisance.
Plain-clothed police were also sent to the campsite where protesters are staying on Thursday. Resist G7 Coalition reported that officers had been waiting in a car outside the campsite in shifts.
It comes after Ocean Rebellion co-founder Ron Higgs, who is involved in climate action protests against the summit, had his home in Cornwall raided by 15 officers last month.
Police monitoring group Netpol says this is being done to intimidate those suspected to be involved in three days of action planned against the summit and accused forces of failing to uphold their duty to protect the right to protest.
Around 6,500 officers have been drafted from across the country to Cornwall, closing off the area surrounding Carbis Bay and erecting metal fences.
While police have said they support the right to protest, forces have vowed to take a tough line on campaigners who cause “disruption,” and have allocated four locations far from the summit for protesters to gather, the furthest a staggering 106 miles away.
Netpol co-ordinator Kevin Blowe said the recent crackdown “seems to be pointing towards a pretty intensive policing operation against protesters over the weekend.”
“Devon and Cornwall Police … have taken the view that essentially they’ve allowed protest so long as they don’t cause any disruption which is ludicrous because of course all protests cause disruption,” he told the Morning Star.
“As local campaigners in Cornwall have quite rightly said, any disruption caused by protest is far less than the disruption caused by the enormous policing and security operation to basically allow G7 leaders to have a picturesque background for their gathering.
“The idea that you can somehow have a sanitised version of protest far away from where it might actually be heard by people with no impact whatsoever … is a failure to understand what the policing duty is.”
A force spokesman said in response to the Thursday arrests: “We continue to support the facilitation of safe and legal protest but criminal activity and public disorder will not be tolerated.”
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