Hamburg: Protesters gathered for a mass rally on the final day of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Hamburg after several anti-capitalist demonstrations this week devolved into running street battles between black-clad anarchists and armoured police with water cannon.
With the German port city of 1.7 million in lockdown mode, a “Solidarity Without Borders" demonstration aimed to draw as many as 100,000 on Saturday. The organizers, who denounce G-20 leaders as being responsible for a “humanitarian and social disaster," called for a non-violent protest.
“We want a peaceful and colourful demo, a symbol of our solidarity without borders, for which we don’t need a G-20," the group said on Twitter before the rally, which begins at 11am local time near Hamburg’s main train station.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosts leaders including US President Donald Trump, who had his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, three days of protests have proved at times overwhelming for city authorities and the almost 20,000 police on hand to maintain security.
Authorities for a second night grappled with protesters who rampaged through the Schanzenviertel neighbourhood, throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails, trashing store fronts and torching cars. The action took place near the Rote Flora, a theatre that’s been occupied by left-wing activists since the 1980s. Police said some 500 assailants ransacked a supermarket in the area and torched it.
Andreas Blechschmidt, a leading Rote Flora activist who helped organize an anti-capitalist demonstration broken up on Thursday with water cannon, condemned the violence by some radical elements as “politically and in substance wrong."
“We had the impression that there was something self-reinforcing about these events—and that the kind of militancy that poured onto the street was somehow intoxicated with itself," Blechschmidt told broadcaster NDR.
Police deployed water cannon Friday to break up violent rallies, including one with thousands of demonstrators near the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, where G-20 leaders heard a classical music performance. Protesters had pelted armoured police with stones.
With Hamburg residents cut off from the city centre for hours during the evening concert and buzzing helicopters omnipresent, police called for reinforcements from throughout Germany to help restore order.
Demonstrators delayed some of the leaders’ arrivals on Friday morning and prevented US first lady Melania Trump from leaving her residence. Windows of the French delegation’s hotel were smashed. Bloomberg