Breaking News -- Germany
|G20 summit protesters loot shops and torch cars as they clash
with Hamburg cops on the second day of violent demonstrations
by Jon Lockett
More than 20,000 officers were on hand to guard the German city's streets, skies and waterways.
ACTIVISTS clashed violently with riot cops in Germany setting cars ablaze, looting shops, throwing petrol bombs and trying to gatecrash the convention centre hosting the G20 talks.
Hundreds of extra police were drafted in to the streets of Hamburg in a bid to keep the increasingly violent protests by anti-globalisation rioters under control.
But as these shocking images show the port’s streets were once again turned into a burning battleground.
Around 200 police officers were injured, dozens of activists had to be taken to the hospital and more than 70 protesters were detained.
Many had to be taken to the hospital, including an officer whose eye was injured when a firework went off in front of him.
Thousands of officers in full riot gear patrolled as many as 30 different protest marches.
Most of the demonstrations were peaceful and creative, but some rioters threw petrol bombs, iron rods and cobble stones at cops.
As night fell, some lit fires in the streets of the city’s Schanzenviertel neighbuorhood.
Nearby thousands danced in the streets to techno music as the international leaders listened to a classical concert.
More than 20,000 officers were on hand to guard the Hamburg’s streets, skies and waterways.
Police trucks blasted protesters with water cannons, and officers physically dragged away a group holding a sit-in at the entrance to the summit grounds.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the violent protests as “unacceptable.”
“I have every understanding for peaceful demonstrations,” Merkel said.
“But violent demonstrations endanger human lives, they endanger people themselves, they put police officers and security forces in danger, put residents in danger, and so that is unacceptable.”
Merkel thanked security forces for their work as the G20 met behind a heavy police presence in a no-go zone that was off-limits to most.
Protesters repeatedly tried pushing into the no-go zone among them a group of 22 swimmers from Greenpeace who tried accessing the area from the Elbe River but didn’t succeed.
Activists also attempted to get near Hamburg’s highly protected philharmonic hall, where international leaders were set to listen to a concert and have dinner together.
Police condemned the “shocking criminal energy and high potential of violence” on display.
The city’s fire department said 11 activists were severely injured and taken to the hospital after falling off a four-meter-tall wall (13 feet) after fleeing from a confrontation with riot police.
Over 70 Officers Hurt in Scuffles With G20 Protesters in Hamburg – Police
Scores of police officers have been injured in clashes with protesters who rallied in the center of the northern German city of Hamburg on the eve of the G20 summit, police said Thursday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Initial reports by Police Hamburg put the number of casualties among officers at 15. Three of them were taken to hospitals, according to police Twitter feed.
But an updated report said the tally has increased by "further 59 lightly-injured police personnel." "We don’t have any information about injured demonstrators or lawbreakers yet," police said.
‘Everybody Went Totally Mad’: 2nd Night of Violence in Hamburg
by Milissa Eddy and David Shimer
HAMBURG, Germany — Tens of thousands of people swarmed into the streets of Hamburg on Saturday for demonstrations against the Group of 20 summit meeting after two consecutive nights of clashes between the police and protesters.
Organizers of the main march said that about 76,000 people were taking part, and tens of thousands of police officers were mobilized to keep watch over the demonstrations. Holding signs that said “No G20,” the marchers hoped to show that a peaceful protest was possible after violence erupted on Thursday and Friday, when some protesters burned cars and smashed shop windows.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces an election in two months, had hoped the demonstrations would show leaders of other G-20 nations where protests are routinely quashed that a thriving democracy can withstand public criticism and dissent.
Instead, Ms. Merkel had to condemn the violence and explain why the streets of Hamburg, a wealthy port city, at times looked like a war zone.
“I have full understanding for peaceful protest, but violent demonstrations are a threat to human life,” she said on Friday, after the first night of violence. “It is not acceptable.”
Hours later, 1,500 black-clad anarchists rampaged through the streets of the city’s Schanzen district, plundering shops and setting fire to cars and trash cans for several hours, the police said. An elite unit of special forces was called in to quell the violence, but only after extensive damage had been done.
The police said on Saturday that they had arrested 43 people in connection with the violence on Friday night. Ninety-six others remained in detention, pending an investigation. The police also said that 213 officers had been injured. Activists reported multiple injuries among the protesters, at least two of whom were hospitalized.
Hamburg has a long history of leftist politics, with occasional clashes between anarchists and the police. But the violence on Friday night rose to a level that shocked some longtime residents.
“What happened last night has nothing to do with legitimate criticism,” said Massimo Gugliotta, who was surveying a charred pile of rubble in the Schanzen district early Saturday. “Whoever did this was just using the idea of protest as an excuse for violence.”
Major streets in the city were blocked off to allow delegations of leaders to go to and from meetings. But many Hamburg residents, whose lives had been disrupted by the events, said they hoped to show that legitimate protests could be peaceful, and effective.
One contingent of about 12,000 people, galvanized by the theme “Solidarity Instead of G20,” began gathering early Saturday, the police said. Jan van Aken, a lawmaker with the Left Party, organized the demonstration with several other groups, including the Hamburg Refugee Council, local environmentalists and the Communist Party.
“Join the masses to send a signal against the G20, against the escalation and against meaningless violence,” Mr. van Aken said in a Twitter message. “Come out, now more than ever!”
In another part of the city, church and community leaders joined local politicians from Hamburg’s centrist parties to organize a demonstration that proclaimed “Hamburg Shows Attitude.” Several hundred people marched with blue, pink and yellow balloons, while others held signs with messages like “Make Global Trade Fair” and “Stop the Violence.”
Among the protesters was Michael Schmidt, 80, a writer, who had traveled to Hamburg from Munich with his son.
“We are fed up with the system” perpetuated by the Group of 20, Mr. Schmidt said. He denounced “the unquestioning of the capitalist system, the social irresponsibility and ecological irresponsibility” of the member nations. The Group of 20 comprises 19 industrial and emerging-market countries, plus the European Union.
Residents of the Schanzen district awoke Saturday to the smell of fire and the sight of shattered storefronts. The police said that about 500 protesters had looted a supermarket and then set it on fire as they retreated.
Videos posted on social media sites showed the smashed glass of a looted electronics store that sold Apple iPhones and other devices. Another showed masked demonstrators in black clothes plundering a grocery store; in yet another, masked protesters could be seen being chased by masked and heavily armed police officers against a backdrop of flames and smoke.
The authorities said the protesters were armed with homemade incendiary devices and iron bars. Activists said the authorities had turned water cannons against them more than 20 times on Friday.
As the evening began in the city’s St. Pauli section, about 30 protesters blocked roadways near the main train station with cinder blocks and pieces of a fence.
Dozens of police vans had to turn around because of the blockade, until about 200 riot police and two trucks arrived. The trucks used water cannons to disperse the protesters, who threw rocks at the vehicles.
Vanessa Lamm, a Schanzen resident who observed the protests in the district until about 2 a.m., said the police had waited to act until demonstrators began throwing stones and destroying property.
“Everybody went totally mad after that — the police and the people,” Ms. Lamm said. “When they started to destroy the shops, the police went in along with the special forces, who were stronger.”
By morning, residents were cleaning up trash and assessing the situation. Piles of charred bicycles and a refrigerator lay on the sidewalk. Dozens of shop windows — even those that had been taped with “No G20” and other slogans — had been reduced to shards.
Kristin Litzbarski, an employee at the Oma’s Apotheke pub, found that her workplace had been spared.
“We were lucky, but so many other stores, owned by people I know right next to us, were not,” she said. “It looks like a war zone. I’m really angry at people for destroying our home. It’s O.K. when people demonstrate, but where does all this aggression come from?”
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