Summit gives protesters cold shoulder

An activist reacts as police push back the group during a protest outside the Bella Center in Copenhagen -- December 16, 2009

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: We continue our special coverage of the U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen. Hundreds of protesters attempted to storm the talks today. Police used tear gas to fend them off, arresting hundreds.

Marketplace's Sam Eaton was in the middle of it all and joins us live from Copenhagen. Hi, Sam.

Sam Eaton: Hi, Bill.

Radke: Describe the scene for us.

Eaton: Well, you have people from all over the world, thousands of them. And the most striking thing is how bundled they are against the cold and wind -- it's freezing here, and it's snowing this morning. They were yelling "revolution" and "climate justice." Essentially they were trying to take over the conference and turn it into what they're calling a "people's assembly." But of course they didn't get very far before they were met with tear gas and riot police. The Bella Center, where the talks are being held, you could pretty much describe as a fortress with all the world leaders starting to arrive today. I've heard there's nearly a 1-to-1 ratio of security and police to the number of people inside the talks.

Radke: And what exactly are the activists protesting?

Eaton: Well I talked to this guy named Dave Blakeney, and he's with the Canadian Union of Coastal Workers. I'll let him tell us what he said:

Dave Blakeney: My take is that there's a staged show of the rich countries, who are really nothing but puppets from larger corporate interests, who are pretty much wrapping themselves in green.

And this is pretty much the message from the outside, Bill -- that the voices of the people most affected by climate change aren't being heard on the inside of the talks, and that the moral issue here about climate change is being buried by corporate interests.

Radke: That's Marketplace's Sam Eaton, joining us live from Copenhagen. Take care, Sam.

Eaton: Thanks.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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