John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto, expressed concerns about the site for demonstrators and the introduction of fees imposed upon media organizations in Savannah as Georgia readies to host the G8 Summit on Sea Island, June 8-10.

“The prospects for violence have increased because civic officials opted for an inappropriate site for handling large crowds and one that could be difficult to reach in case of emergencies,” he told GlobalAtlanta last week.

Dr. Kirton said that local officials chose a city park located in a residential neighborhood for the demonstrators to gather instead of selecting the city’s sports stadium, which is equipped with large seating capacity, lavatory facilities and a sound system for speakers to address the crowd.

A possible impediment to using the stadium is the Savannah minor league team is scheduled to host games there on all three days of the summit.

Dr. Kirton also worried that the introduction of fees that media organizations will be charged to use the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center’s media center during the summit would deter small news organizations from participating, thereby making the summit a more elitist event.

According to Evan Keefer, press secretary for the Sea Island Summit Organization, U.S. conference centers have always charged media for use of workspace to offset the numerous costs associated with running an event.

He also said that no news organization would be shut out from covering the event. “We have worked closely with local media in Brunswick, Jacksonville and Savannah,” to prevent this, he added.

Dr. Kirton praised Georgia’s academic communities at Armstrong Atlantic State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia for helping to educate Georgians about the Summit. “This is a record to date” for summits involving so many institutions, he said.

The Metro Atlanta Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Coca-Cola Co. can be complimented for entertaining the media in Savannah during the second night of the summit, he added.

“It conveys a message that Georgia is a terrific place for international business and encourages inward foreign investment,” he said.

For more information, contact Dr. Kirton at (416) 946-8953.