With more than 6,000 police deployed to Cornwall for the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, there were surreal sights everywhere: armed officers on residential streets, snipers on rooftops, marine units in St Ives harbour and battleships in the sea. Many residents revelled in the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the action as world leaders and diplomats were convoyed into Carbis Bay, while others objected to the draconian restrictions which included a so-called “ring of steel” around the neighbourhood.
The US president, Joe Biden, landed at Newquay airport in Air Force One amid dense fog, before fellow leaders including the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, touched down the following day. They would spend the next three days in talks, ultimately promising to gift 1bn Covid-19 vaccines to countries in need. The summit’s showpiece event, the G7 leaders’ “family photo”, was staged on the beach in front of Carbis Bay hotel. Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie, looked at ease as they elbow-bumped their guests, while Biden was seen in deep conversation with the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
Protesters from all corners of the world made their voices heard. Extinction Rebellion held daily rallies including an eerie penitents march through Falmouth to draw attention to the climate emergency; Surfers Against Sewage organised a mass paddle out at Gyllyngvase beach over concerns about the plight of the oceans; there was a fiery “kill the bill” demonstration opposing proposed new police powers; Palestinians and Kashmiris gathered to condemn violence against their people; and Marvina Newton gave an impassioned speech on the subject of racial justice.