G-20 Protesters in Hamburg Halted by Police
Thousands of demonstrators were stopped from marching through the streets of Hamburg on Thursday evening after police blocked their protest at the Group of 20 summit in Germany’s 2nd-largest city.
The police said they had temporarily halted the “Welcome to Hell” demonstration from moving forward because some 1,000 protesters were wearing masks to cover their faces and others had shouted anti-police slogans.
The police are arresting people with masks.
The situation in the St. Pauli district, a bastion of left-wing activity for decades, remained tense with authorities telling protesters over loudspeakers to “remove the masks,” and demonstrators responding: “All of Hamburg hates the police.”
With the heightened security, traffic in Hamburg has ground to a halt.
“This is an unprecedented challenge,” Andy Grote, interior minister for Hamburg’s regional government, told reporters earlier in the day. “The police force is prepared. We do have quite a bit of experience with militant activists.”
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere estimates that the number of protesters prepared to use violence stands at about 8,000.
As leaders arrived for the gathering hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that begins on Friday, protest organizers are pledging “various and unpredictable mass resistance” as they make their way close to the Summit venue.
The “Welcome to Hell” organizers denounce the G-20 as a vehicle for global capitalism, “an assembly of bourgeois governments, torture states and warring military blocks reinforcing global exploitation,” according to the group’s manifesto. The march will include a “large organized black bloc,” including anarchists, the group said.
A group called Block G-20 pledges to disrupt the meeting by using diversionary tactics against police, everything from marches to dancing and street theater.
Primary targets for disruption are the summit venue, Hamburg’s City Hall and the Elbphilharmonie concert hall.
Another organization said it will seek to shut down commercial activity in Hamburg’s port, an export hub for Europe’s largest economy that itself is reliant on global trade.
Protests will culminate Saturday with a demonstration that organizers hope will draw as many as 100,000.
The police are using water canons to dampen the “Welcome to Hell” demonstrators.