Tens of thousands of people turned out for the largest protests yet against the G-20 meetings in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday. The peaceful marches contrasted with the violence of Friday night, when rioting and clashes with security forces erupted.
As of around midday local time on Saturday, 143 people have been temporarily detained and 122 taken into custody in summit-related operations that began on June 22, the Hamburg police department said, adding that 213 police officers have been injured.
In last night’s unrest, cars, barricades, and trash cans were set on fire, stores were looted, and rioters threw bottles and stones at police.
“Police used water cannons and SWAT teams to try and stop the hundreds of rioters who plundered a grocery store and vandalized other parts of a multi-cultural district in the city,” NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports. “Hamburg police spokesman Timo Zill told public broadcaster ARD it took time for police units to move in because they discovered rioters had prepared Molotov cocktails and stashed them on rooftops.”
Hamburg’s police said they carried out a search Saturday at a building linked to a group called the Hamburg Anti-imperialists, where officers found and confiscated illegal pyrotechnic devices.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the unrest, “There is no justification for violent protests. I respect peaceful protesters; they are exercising their fundamental democratic rights. Violent protesters merely demonstrate their contempt of democracy.”
The meeting of the world’s most powerful leaders have drawn a wide range of protesters to Germany, from economic equality groups to climate activists and refugee advocates.
As the summit headed toward its conclusion Saturday, police said some 20,000 participants gathered for one of the largest protests, with thousands more taking part in marches and gatherings with titles such as “One World – One Vibe,” “Unlimited Solidarity” and “Hamburg Shows Attitude.”
From Hamburg, Soraya reports for our Newscast unit from the scene of a demonstration Saturday, “The march included Kurds protesting against Ankara. There were also communists. And still other groups chanted against capitalism.”
Soraya adds, “Police in riot gear flanked the protesters, but most of the officers looked relaxed and did not intervene.”
The G-20 Summit ended shortly before noon (ET) on Saturday.