Militant anarchists continued violent protests in Hamburg for the second day as the G20 summit kicked off in the city. According to local press, at least 45 people have been detained and 159 police officers have been wounded in clashes. For the second day, police had to resort to water cannon to disperse protesters while dozens of were set on fire in the suburb of Altona.
As Reuters adds "for the 1,000 hard-left militants who wreaked havoc on the streets of Hamburg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel could not have chosen a better location to hold the G20 summit." That's because the dense, urban environment allows them to disperse and hide easily, and the city is full symbols of the wealth they detest - from the gleaming 800 million euro ($913 million) Elbphilharmonie concert hall to the shipyards that build luxury yachts.
As the July 7-8 summit started on Friday, Black Bloc anarchists and other anti-capitalist protesters sat in groups on main intersections, blocking streets and bridges leading to the summit venue as well as a road used by trucks at Hamburg Port. On Thursday night, they hurled beer bottles, blocked roads using trash bins and set cars on fire.
On Friday morning, G20 protesters staged a sit-in demonstration and blocked a road in Hamburg. Police said that they tried to urge the protesters to disperse peacefully, but then deployed water cannon to clear the road.
A Black Bloc activist who gave her name as Noura blamed police intransigence for the violence. "The police represent a government that says it is open and tolerant," said the 27-year-old, who came from the western town of Krefeld and was trying to talk male friends out of hurling beer bottles at riot police.
live police r3move protesters against g20 Hamburg https://t.co/Ym0XFep691— Lizzie Phelan (@LizziePhelan) July 7, 2017
"We just want them to listen to us and take our ideas seriously," she said. "How do they want these young people not to be angry when they dismiss them all as a bunch of violent thugs?"
The Black Bloc movement, which gained prominence in the 1980s with violent protests against nuclear power and squatter evacuations, wants to end capitalism and replace it with a libertarian system void of state power and money.
Hamburg locals watched the violence unfold from their balconies on Thursday night, as police officers in full riot gear chased groups of mostly teenage Black Bloc activists who splintered when they saw the police approach, hiding in alleys on a hill on the northern bank of the Elbe River.
Several Black Bloc youth responded with "Get lost!" when approached by journalists, fearing that reporters wearing helmets were undercover police.
Meanwhile, Hamburg police requested reinforcements following overnight clashes in the city, according to Germany’s Welt newspaper, citing police officials. Berlin and Baden-Württemberg police units deployed 200 more officers each in addition to the 20,000 or so already providing security during the G20 summit. A police helicopter was nearly hit by a pistol flare light on Friday, the Hamburg police tweeted. At one point, the Hamburg police had to deny that the local army was getting involved, tweeting that "we are receiving no support from the army at the G20. There are clear constitutional limits on how we operate."
The comment was prompted by a photo which showed armed vehicles belonging to the Bundeswehr (Germany army) moving towards Altona.
Subsequently, Spiegel reported that the German army was transporting materials on orders from the police.
As a testament to the severity of the local protest, First Lady Melania Trump was stuck inside her guesthouse in Hamburg her spokeswoman told German news agency DPA, which was confirmed by US sources.
Police won't clear @FLOTUS to leave residence in Hamburg right now b/c of protests, her spox confirms: ""It's unfortunate."— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) July 7, 2017
Melania Trump acknowledged the G20 protests earlier on Friday, saying she hopes everyone stays safe.
The first lady was due to attend an event for the spouses of world leaders, organized by the husband of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Joachim Sauer.
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However, the most striking feature of the Hamburg violence was the pervasive attacks on cars by leftist protesters who set several cars on fire in Altona, several police vehicles also were vandalized, according to Hamburg police, who tweeted the images of police vans with black paint and smashed windows.
A video recorded in the neighborhood of Altona on Friday morning showed what looked like a war zone.
Twitter was flooded with pictures and videos showing burning cars in the streets of Altona.
It wasn't just cars: The Local's Emma Anderson reported that she was walking through the places hit by rioting. She has seen a bank with its windows smashed in, boarded up shops, and more burned out cars.
With the summit set to continue into Saturday, it remains to be seen if the local police will be able to maintain peace and order on its own, or if this will be the first time ever Germany has been forced to call in the army to prevent violent protesters from overrunning the G-20 summit.
Meanwhile, for most of the Hamburg population, among the chaos the following picture summarizes the mood best: "I'm a local and I just want to go to the supermarket'