State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said the security force of about 20,000 personnel outranked the fewer than 500 protestors visiting the borders of the global economic summit.
The summit, held June 8-10, brought together leaders of the world's major industrial democracies, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, European Union and United States. The first summit was in 1975.
Mullis was on the committee made up of local, state and federal officials that organized the international event.
“We were expecting thousands, if not tens of thousands, of protesters judging by what has happened at past summit meetings,” Mullis said. “There was a riot in Seattle one year and problems in Miami and other countries. We had about 350 protesters in Savannah and about 150 in Brunswick.
“We had 3,700 international and domestic media there,” he said. “What was interesting was on the first day of scheduled protesting, there were 100 protesters marching and 1,000 media covering the march.”
The security preparations may have kept some protestors away, he said.
“I think the violent protesters know that Georgians believe in the First Amendment (the right to free speech), but they also know that Georgians believe in the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms).”
Mullis said he was on the scene when British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac arrived.
“I was on the tarmac when Tony Blair landed and was greeted by a great ‘Hooray’ from the crowd,” Mullis said. “I was also there when President Jacques Chirac landed, and he was met by silence. It was respectful, but nobody cheered.”
As chairman of the state Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee, Mullis said he took the opportunity to “show off the greatness of the people of Georgia and all the attractions and interests we have for the world.”
“Our effort to promote Georgia to the world was very successful,” Mullis said.
Georgia got a moment in the limelight to sell itself to the world, but the effectiveness of that salesmanship may not be known for some time, the senator said.
“We won’t be able to track the economic effect of the summit for weeks or months to see if it had the ripple effect across Georgia like we were hoping,” he said. “I think the financial repercussions will be felt in the seeds that were planted.”
The death of former President Ronald Reagan also put a damper on activities and drew some of the media away from the event, Mullis said.
“We were somewhat overshadowed by the death of a great communicator, President Reagan, which was understandable,” he said. “The domestic media coverage was clearly focused on that.