Protests Fizzle in Brunswick and Savannah; Few Incidents; "It's Kind of Perplexing. Everybody Said It Was Going to Be Bigger."

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM SCHOETTLER and TERESA STEPZINSKI, The Times-Union

The two-man band Voice of Defiance played to about a dozen people Tuesday at Forsyth Park, Savannah's official protest site for this week's G-8 Sea Island Summit. But there were few actual voices of defiance either in Savannah, where thousands of reporters are camped, or in Brunswick, a few miles from where world leaders convened on Sea Island.

Unlike previous violence-marred gatherings, the few official protests went off without incident, starting with an anti-war march attended by about 100 activists in Brunswick Tuesday morning.

"We were preparing for the worst and we got the best," said Brunswick Mayor Brad Brown, who met with leaders of some demonstrations. "It's been very quiet. Everything is going very well, which is what we had hoped would happen . . . From the demonstrations and protests that we've had so far, I anticipate that this will go off without violence from the activists."

In the morning, a small but diverse group of activists braved stifling heat and humidity to march through Brunswick protesting the Iraq war as well as a variety of social causes. They carried homemade signs, banners, flowers and rolled a giant black G-8 ball made from cloth.

They were met almost one-to-one by reporters covering the march, which was held under the watchful gaze of law enforcement and military personnel.

Raven Burchard said he was amazed at the amount of money being spent "to protect G-8 from us."

Some of the marchers tried to provoke the camouflage-clad military personnel who watched calmly without response from sidewalks near major intersections along the estimated 4-mile parade route. A dozen youths, dressed all in black with their faces concealed by bandanas, screamed curses, made obscene gestures at the soldiers and at some of the police officers assigned to traffic control so the march could pass safely through the streets.

Residents looked on with curiosity and disdain.

"I don't know what they are trying to prove," said William Dobson, a retiree from Brunswick, who pedalled his bicycle to watch the march.

Nearby, about 40 Falun Gong practitioners lined U.S. 17. They said they want the G-8 leaders to be aware of the abuses of human rights in China to pressure the Chinese government to end them, though they conceded their protest site, about 10 miles from Sea Island, probably won't be seen by any G-8 participants.

The anti-war march ended without any incidents at the Fair World Fair at Coastal Georgia Community College, where activists promoted alternative food sources and decried the military-industrial complex. …