THURMONT, Md. (AP) — Protesters who hope to make their voices heard at a global economic summit at Camp David said they plan peaceful demonstrations Friday in the nearby town of Thurmont.
Occupy movement members from as far away as Arizona arrived in the mountain town to wave signs and banners along U.S. 15. Police kept them several miles from the presidential retreat about an hour north of Washington.
Occupy Baltimore members said they expect hundreds of demonstrators in Thurmont on Saturday.
Organizer Beth Emmerling said they aim to educate the public, not disrupt the meeting of leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations. She said she’s looking forward to a headline reading, “First G-8, no arrests.”
Police say those who arrived Friday haven’t caused any trouble.
Police aim to keep the demonstrators at least four miles from the presidential retreat in Catoctin Mountain Park where the G-8 leaders are meeting.
Merchants in the town of 6,200 have spruced up their stores and stocked their shelves in anticipation of visitors doing some shopping and dining between marching and chanting.
“As long as we treat them with a welcoming and respectful attitude, they’ll treat us the same way — at least that’s what my hope is,” said Virginia LaRoche, owner of Timeless Trends Boutique on Main Street.
Some past G-8 meetings have been accompanied by large and sometimes violent protests.
This year’s G-8 Summit had been set for Chicago, just before a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit. The Obama administration moved the economic meeting to Camp David, but denied speculation that the sessions were moved for security reasons.
International events at the presidential retreat are part of Thurmont’s history, and town officials are encouraging residents to embrace rather than fear the summit. Flags of the participating nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and United States — are displayed in a downtown park planted with red, white and blue flowers.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)