Geldof Speaks Out As G8 Protesters Clash With Police

Clashes result in 100 arrests, 20 injuries — Geldof calls them 'stupid and unnecessary and to be condemned.'

After successfully pulling off 10 large-scale concerts on four continents Saturday with only a few weeks' preparation, Bob Geldof isn't about to see all his hard work ruined by either violent protests or backpedaling politicians.

Over the weekend and again on Monday, Geldof spoke out against the violent clashes between protesters and riot police in Edinburgh, Scotland, that left 20 police and demonstrators injured and resulted in some 100 arrests, according to The Associated Press.

Gearing up for Wednesday's Long Walk to Justice, a peaceful protest march he hopes will draw 1 million people, Geldof said the battles between protesters and police were "stupid and unnecessary and to be condemned."

The protests, involving hundreds of anarchists and debt-relief supporters, continued Tuesday (July 5), one day before the G8 leaders begin three days of talks in nearby Gleneagles, Scotland (see "What Is The G8, Anyway?"). Discussions about debt relief and aid packages to the world's poorest nations, the issues at the core of Saturday's Live 8 events, are on the agenda.

Instead of fighting in the streets, Geldof said, "We should look at what happens in Africa and what happens to the poor — the extreme violence visited upon them by poverty."

Approximately 1,000 protesters brought traffic to a standstill in Edinburgh over the weekend with antics ranging from mooning police to playing soccer with an officer's hat. Accusations of police overreaction were made when several dozen officers in riot gear allegedly drew retractable batons and struck onlookers and bystanders in an effort to clear Princes Street, one of the city's main shopping areas, according to The Australian newspaper.

On Monday, the protesters — some costumed as clowns, others toting drums, and a "Fairy Army" wearing sparkly wings — blew bubbles, rang bells, tossed fake currency on the ground and walked peacefully through the streets in a series of blockades and marches dubbed "The Festival of Full Enjoyment."

Later in the day, a small group of masked anarchists carrying black flags, the so-called Black Bloc, entered the fray. Riot police moved in, photographed people in the mob and eventually arrested protesters who hurled uprooted plants and bits of commemorative benches at the officers.

The melee, which trapped numerous shoppers and families out for a stroll, was markedly different from Saturday's peaceful Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh, which drew an estimated 200,000 people.

Protestors were dismayed by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. The treasury chief, who has supported debt relief, free trade and a doubling of aid to Africa in the past, warned Tuesday that G8 leaders are unlikely to meet debt-relief campaigners' high expectations. In response, three members of the World Development Movement climbed a crane above Edinburgh's Waverley railway station on Tuesday and hung a banner reading "No more Brownwash."

"I know ... you will tell us we've got to do more," Brown told the BBC. "I know that what you will say is that what we can achieve is perhaps not good enough. But we have got to bring the whole of the world together. What Britain says is one thing; what we can persuade the rest of the world to do together is what we will get as the outcome of Gleneagles."

Geldof, however, said he was "not prepared to be disappointed. I don't think that is an option. I don't think the chancellor should try lowering the bar at this stage. We have come for victory. It has to happen now. Not to do it now would be grotesquely irresponsible. It is unacceptable for politicians to say 'prepare to be disappointed.' "

A final Live 8 concert featuring Annie Lennox and Texas will take place Wednesday in Edinburgh. It has been dubbed "Edinburgh 50,000," a reference to the number of people around the world organizers say will die that day from extreme poverty.

Police were bracing for more protests. John Vine, the chief constable of Tayside Police, the force responsible for summit security, said his officers would work alongside peaceful demonstrators but would not tolerate violence. "Make no bones about it," Vine told Reuters, "if we encounter people who are prepared to use violence to achieve their aims ... we will take robust action."

Get involved: Learn about the poverty crisis in Africa, the proposed solutions, and how you can help. Plus find all of our coverage of the international Live 8 concerts and more at our think MTV Live 8 hub.