AUCHTERARDER, Scotland – Riot police with attack dogs beat back demonstrators Wednesday as thousands marched near the site of the Group of Eight (search) summit, demanding action from the world's leaders on poverty reduction and climate change.
The protesters — banging drums, blowing whistles and led by a bagpiper dressed in a kilt — marched through the narrow streets of Auchterarder, a village of about 4,000 people, to the nearby fenced-off perimeter of the Gleneagles resort (search).
A few hundred broke off from the main demonstration and pushed through a small barrier along the route, running across a field and surrounding a wooden police watchtower on the edge of the resort, where the G-8 leaders were to meet. Although protesters didn't manage to scale the resort's main perimeter fence, riot police chased after them with batons.
A small number of people were beaten back by police with dogs, as reinforcements were ferried in on helicopters. Protesters eventually retreated as the police advanced.
Authorities said 10 people were arrested, and there were reports of only minor injuries. By dusk, many of the demonstrators had retreated to pubs and cafes away from the summit site.
Earlier in the day, Tayside Police had called off the march after demonstrators southwest of Gleneagles smashed car windows, threw rocks and attempted to blockade one of the main roads approaching the summit venue.
The decision to prevent the march outraged protesters. Organizer G8 Alternatives accused police of "disgraceful behavior" in denying thousands of people the right to stage a peaceful demonstration.
George Galloway, a politician recently re-elected to the House of Commons, despite being thrown out of Prime Minister Tony Blair's (search) Labour Party, criticized the decision.
"The most violent people on earth are not the demonstrators, not even the anarchists. The most violent criminals in the world today are in the Gleneagles hotel and they're called the G-8," he said. "They're responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world by the system of globalized capitalism, by their war, by their exploitation."
Police eventually backed down and agreed to allow the march to go ahead.
As they arrived at the perimeter of Gleneagles, protesters waved their hands in the air and shouted "blood on your hands!" — a reference to the Iraq war and poverty in Africa — before heading back. Tayside Police said about 5,000 to 6,000 people participated in the march, although organizers put the figure at 15,000.
Margaret Chisholm, 60, a retiree from Dundee, Scotland, said she was marching to demand "some sort of fairness to those less fortunate than ourselves, who don't have a voice." She said she would like the G-8 leaders to cancel Africa's debt.
Her views were echoed by Joyce Ketteles, a social worker from Dundee. "They can find the money to go and fight wars, no problem," she said. "They have the resources, but they don't seem to be able to do anything to save people's lives."
In Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, around 300 protesters who had been turned back from Auchterarder massed on the main shopping street and blocked traffic. Around 50 others staged a sit-in protest in front of a fleet of buses.
"Eight people should not have the right to control everything," said Michael Pacitti, 19, of Aberdeen, Scotland. "There's not enough democracy when it's eight people making decisions for everybody."
Earlier in the day, more than 100 activists, many dressed in black, covering their faces with bandanas and wearing hoods, streamed out of a makeshift campsite in Stirling, 14 miles southwest of Gleneagles, where some 5,000 anarchists and anti-globalization protesters are staying.
An Associated Press Television News cameraman saw about 100 protesters smashing windows of parked cars and throwing stones at police. Police said some officers were injured, and eight received hospital treatment.
Police Chief Superintendent Iain MacLeod said about 60 people had been arrested following the violence in Stirling, and nine policemen had been hospitalized. He gave no details of their injuries.
Traffic was snarled as police closed the M9 highway, the main route to Gleneagles from Edinburgh. In nearby Bannockburn, protesters — some wearing black crash helmets and carrying iron bars — smashed the windshields of parked cars and threw rocks at police vans.
Anti-globalization campaigners have vowed to disrupt the summit. Blair, who this year chairs the G-8, arrived by helicopter after flying back to Britain from Singapore, where he lobbied for Britain's successful 2012 Olympic bid.
About 50 "eco-warriors" used tree trunks and branches to block a bridge in the town of Crieff, where some G-8 delegates reportedly were staying.