German police fire water cannons as leftists stage mass anti-G20 protests

July 7, 2017
Samaa Web Desk

NEWS DESK: Clashes erupted in Hamburg, Germany, as G20 summit leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, began arriving on Friday. The German police fired water cannons and pepper spray at the protesters, reported BBC and Channel 4.

Many were protesting the arrivals of Trump and Putin, calling the protest ‘Welcome to Hell’. Anti-G20 protesters threw bottles and other objects. Many said they wanted to make a stand against world leaders preaching intolerance. Authorities were expecting around 100,000 protesters from across Europe. Police said organisers cancelled the march following the clashes.

As many as 20,000 officers are on the streets of the German city, making it the largest police deployment in the city’s history. Police said at least seven officers were injured.

Trump and Putin have met for the first time, shaking hands at the start of a G20 summit in Hamburg. They will hold a longer meeting later, and say they want to repair ties damaged by a crises including Russia's alleged meddling in the US election. Climate change and trade are set to dominate as the two-day summit opens, with mass protests in the streets.

Clashes at a ‘Welcome to Hell’ rally left 76 police officers injured.

By choosing to hold the summit in Hamburg, Germany's northern hi-tech powerhouse, Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to show mass protests can be tolerated in an open democracy, correspondents say.

The G20, or Group of Twenty, is a summit for 19 countries, both developed and developing, plus the EU. The individual countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

‘United against capitalism, war and climate change’

Demonstrators could be seen gathering again in Hamburg Friday morning, to the beating of drums, as businesses surveyed damage to shop fronts and firefighters hosed down freshly burnt cars.

"Brick by brick, wall by wall, make the fortress Europe fall," protesters shouted as they marched again.

The city's squats have long been a base for leftists but up to 100,000 people from Hamburg and beyond were expected to gather during the summit to protest against capitalism, war and climate change.

One protester, Dirk Mirkow, was asked by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle why he was demonstrating. "For example because Donald Trump denies climate change," he replied. "And because the richest eight men own as much as a large percentage of the world's population."

In Thursday's clashes, which continued into the night, police charged at masked protesters at the ‘Welcome to Hell’ march, which was attended by 12,000 people.

Police fired water cannon and pepper spray at masked protesters, who hurled bottles, stones and flares.

Medics were seen treating several people. At least one person appeared to have been seriously hurt and was carried away covered by a foil blanket.