Germany Expects Violent Protests During G20 Summit
Police expect an outbreak of violence as dozens of rallies, including one named “Welcome to Hell,” have been announced in Hamburg ahead of the G20 summit there. Left-wing radicals are vowing to “protest in all kinds of ways.”
About 30 demonstrations are expected to be held in Hamburg over the course of the summit week from July 1-9, according to German media. The organizers expect a peak of over 100,000 protesters, while police say that at least 8,000 of the demonstrators will be anarchists and various left-wing radicals, whose major goal is to disrupt the G20 meeting.
More than 20,000 police officers from across Germany have been deployed to the city along with 28 helicopters, 185 police dogs, 40 water cannons and as many as 3,000 police vehicles to provide security for the summit, the German Muenchener Merkur daily reports.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged protesters to remain peaceful when they rally against a G20 summit next week, when police expect thousands of anti-capitalist militants.
Merkel told parliament that “we know there will be protests, and that is more than legitimate in a democracy”.
“But I hope, for the sake of the citizens of Hamburg and the security forces… that these protests will be peaceful”.
About 30 demonstrations have been registered in Hamburg before and during the summit.
Most are expected to be peaceful, but some, with mottos such as “Shut Down G20” and “G20 – Welcome to Hell”, are considered likely to escalate.
One of the biggest police concerns is a rally, which will be held on July 6 under the slogan “Welcome to Hell,” and is organized by several left-wing radical groups. Some 5,000 protesters are expected to take part in the rally, which is likely to end up in clashes between the demonstrators and police, Merkur claims.
“It’s a combative message… but it’s also meant to symbolize that G20 policies worldwide are responsible for hellish conditions like hunger, war and the climate disaster,” Andreas Blechschmidt, one of the organizers of the “Welcome to Hell” rally, told AFP.
He also said that the activists would try to block access to the summit venue and “reserve for themselves the option of militant resistance” against police officers.
“Massive civil disobedience is not a riot,” Berg added, as he justified the planned action.
Police also anticipate that a rally held under the slogan “Enter G20 – sink capitalism,” which is scheduled to be held on July 7 and could be attended by some 2,000 people, could slide into violence as its organizers have links to some radical groups.
The second day of the summit, July 8, could potentially witness a 30,000-strong demonstration organized by Germany’s Die Linke (Left) Party, in which, however, some leftist radicals could also take part, Merkur reports.
The protesters also vowed to stage sit-down demonstrations and even set up camps across the city. So far, the German authorities have allowed the establishment of only one such camp, which is expected to be located outside of the “special zone.”
“It will be the biggest operation in the history of Hamburg’s police,” said the city-state’s police spokesman Timo Zell.
Protesters have voiced anger about Hamburg being turned into a police “fortress”, including a ban on demonstrations during the summit in most of the city centre and along roads to the airport, an area of 38 square kilometres (15 square miles).
Many Hamburg residents are fleeing town to evade traffic jams, ID checks and the noise of police helicopters above, and some shops near the summit are boarding up their windows.
Protesters have voiced anger about the city turning into a police “fortress”, and at a July 7-8 ban on demonstrations across most of the city which will force rallies into harbourside areas.
Georg Ismael, 25, of leftist group ArbeiterInnenMacht, said that given how police “are trying to put pressure on the organisations mobilising against the G20, you can expect them to be violent”.
“We are prepared and we’ll try to defend our democratic rights to assemble.”
Many fear a rerun of the kind of major urban clashes seen at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, or the Frankfurt opening of the new European Central Bank building in 2015.