Reportback #NoG20: A week in #Hamburg

After being under siege for weeks, the army of cops and the delegations of the G20 member states finally left Hamburg. Apart from necessary and legitimate resistance against social injustice and capitalism, its important to know that the German state did everything they could to escalate the NoG20 protests. One could say the state used the G20 summit to see how far they can go. Its to early to say how things will develope in the coming months but fact is that politicians are trying to use the clashes in Hamburg to go after everything what they consider as the left. For this article we used a lot of information from our NoG20 live blogs, an article by Lower Class Magazin and other reliable sources. Last but not least; the results of the summit shows that the global elite are devided, for the first time they did not manage to agree on a final statement with all subjects in it.

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Image: Clashes in the Schanze district at July 7 (Image: Lower Class Magazin)

Published by Enough is Enough

You will find all our No G20 stories here.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Many people were surprised that the German government decided to host this years G20 summit in Hamburg . There are many active autonomous and other leftwing groups in the harbour city. So protests were expected from the very beginning. In the months before the summit politicians stated that there would be no ban zones for protests, Mayor Olaf Scholz even said that the G20 summit would be “a festival of democracy”. From the beginning disinformation was part of the strategy of Germany’s ruling class, who seem to live in a parallel society that is drifting further and further away from real life.

In the weeks before the G20 summit, an army of cops occupied Hamburg. People were randomly checked by cops on a daily basis and there were helicopters in the air. The athmosphere in the city changed, there was growing anger, even many conservative CDU voters wanted the cops to leave. At the end of June first activsts from outside Hamburg started to arrive and beside the “no protest zones”, it became clear that the state’s strategy was to demobilize and obstruct the NoG20 protests by attacking its infrastructure. Police authorities stated again and again that they won’t allow protest camps were people can sleep, eat, debate and regenerate, knowing that such camps are a key element for protests that will last for multiple days.

On July 1 a convoy from Wendland (Germany) was stopped and searched by cops in Hamburg-Harburg. After more than 3 hours the cops announced that they wont allow the convoy to drive to the Schanze district (First Tweet below). Although the red and blue ban zones were not in effect yet, the cops were already starting to restrict the freedom of movement. This was one of the first repressive actions against NoG20 activists where cops caried out an operation which is in breah of law. Not really surprising but the way the cops again and again openly breached laws before the protests even started was the preface of things to come.

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Image: On July 1 a convoy from Wendland (Germany) was stopped and searched by cops

In the night of July 1 on July 2 the administrative court of Hamburg decided that police authorities have to allow tents to sleep in the protest camp at Elbpark Entenwerder after the verdict by the constitutional court earlier this week. The court stated that activists can start building the camp on July 2 at 12:00pm. But the cops decided to ignore the court verdict and blocked the road to Elbpark Entenwerder at 11:45am. 

At 12:28pm lawyer Klingner spoke to activists in front of Elbpark Entenwerder which was still blocked by cops, he said “this is a coup against the judiciary.” Shortly after that activists started to build a camp at the street in front of the blockade by cops. During the standoff between cops and activists in front of the entrance of Elbpark Entenwerder, cops in full riot gear violently stole a shield with the text “Dudde you old toilet brush”. A little bit later they repeated this action after activists brought a new shield with the same text. At 02:47pm representatives of local authorities came to the standoff to negotiate with the organisers of the camp. At 03:00pm the negotiations were over because local authorities ignored the court verdict by refusing to allow tents to sleep and only half of the space for the camp. Camp organisers had to refuse this unlawful “offer.” Instead the activists decided to stay on the street.

On the same day there was also a reformist demo in the city center of Hamburg. After the demo people started to build a protest camp at the square in front of city hall. At 08:00pm cops started to evict that camp. Shortly after that cops suddenly gave up their blockade at the entrance of Elbpark Entenwerder. Immediately people entered the park and started to build up the protest camp. 

But the cops continued to ignore the court verdict. Although they finally allowed people to build up the protest camp, police authorities stated that they would not allow tents to sleep at Elbpark Entenwerder. Again and again police spokespersons stated that they will never ever allow a protest camp where “militant rioters” can retreat, eat, sleep and regenerate. They kept giving statements like this although they knew this was nothing else than a coup against the judiciary. We dont want to celebrate the court verdict here, but its important to know that politicians and the director of the G20 police operation, Dudde, openly breached the rule of law which they claim to protect. About one hour after the cops gave up their blockade, they threatened to evict the camp again. Around 11:00pm hundreds of riot cops in full gear stormed the camp to confiscate 11 tents. Journalist Marteimer reports that several people including journalists were injured during the police operation in Entenwerder. Her press card was slapped and she was beaten in her belly. She also got pepper sprayed. A cameraman was told by a cops: “Film me and you will collect”. When Marteimer asked a police spokesman why she and other journalists were attacked, he said “Yes, and? I can’t do anything about that.” Police authorities asked the court for a new verdict and stated they would CONSIDER to respect a new verdict. This was unprecedented in Germany.

Several people were detained during the violent action by cops and one of the injured people was badly injured and brought to the intesive care unit of a hospital in Hamburg. This person is still in an artificial coma. This all happened days befor the first stone was thrown. The actions and statements by state authorities and its representatives made clear that they would escalate things. They did everything to supress any kind of protests, including peaceful protests. Public opinion was now turning against the violent and illegal actions of the police and Hamburg’s state interior ministery. Although the authorities did not change their position, activists didn’t gave up and published a statement with an ultimatum demanding to allow activist to build up camps until July 4, 10:00am or live with the fact that activists would start building wild camps across Hamburg.

The ultimatum passed without any reaction of local authorities. A few churches allowed people to build camps on their property. The “Schauspielhaus” theater offered places to sleep after it was occupied and football (soccer) club St. Pauli allowed people to sleep in their stadium. Although riot cops violently evicted a wild protest camp near Wohlers park (video below), it was a major defeat for the state and its lackeys in uniform.

In the evening of July 5, tweets were going round that local authorities didn’t impose any stipulations to the organisers of the anti-capitalistic Welcome to Hell demo. The director of the G20 police operations, Dudde, was also responsible for the police attack against the Rote Flora demo in 2013. More and more people realised that Dudde would not let the Welcome to Hell demo march. In the evening cops again and again attacked peaceful people who were mainly partying in Hamburg during and after the “Rave against G20” demo. Considering the amount of people and the ongoing police attacks things were astonishing peaceful on the side of the protesters.

At July 6 the Welcome to Hell demo wanted to march in downtown Hamburg. At 04:00pm several thousand people started gathering at Fischmarkt. The crowd was growing fast, around 20.000 people came to the demo. After several speeches and live music, the front bloc with a Welcome to Hell banner started to line up at 07:00pm. The front of the demo was formed by a 2000 people strong black bloc. Many people with masks but peaceful, not even firecrackers went off. Somebody who had drunken way to much alcohol and threw a bottle, was even excluded from the black bloc. Behind the front bloc thousands were waiting to start the long weekend of protests against the G20. People started to march but didn’t came far, the cops stopped the demo after about 50 meters. 4 water canons and many many riot squats in front and at the side of the demo intimidated and threatened the protesters. At the beginning the cops were willing to negotiate: “Put off your masks and you can march.” A big part of the black bloc actually did put off their masks but instead of allowing the demo to continue,  the cops suddenly attacked the demo with water canons and many riot squats without any warning. They kicked, beaten and peppersprayed and pulled people from a wall. The masked riot cops in full gear started an orgy of violence in a way that, and thats not an overstatement, it wouldn’t have surprised anybody who was at the scene, when people would have been killed. After the cops had violently dispersed the crowds, they started to hunt people around Fischmarkt. During this hunting scenes, people started to defend themseves for the first time after days full of police violence. Bottles and stones were thrown to the unleashed goon squads in uniform. Hundreds of people were injured during this police attack, a few of them badly. It was a legitimate and necessary act of selfdefense.

It was interesting to see that the cops didn’t seem to have a plan how to handle the outflow of people after the attack. Thousands of people moved to other parts of the city center, where others were on the streets as well. The cops started to lose control. During the night hours there were first clashes, the first windows were smashed and the first cars were set on fire. Considering the scale and the brutality of the police attack against the demo, these first clashes were not really big.

In the morning of July 7 a group of about 100 people attacked several police vans, shops and banks in the Altona district. Several cars were set on fire. An eyewitness told NDR that the cops ambled behind the fully masked group and that he had the impression that the cops did not want to interfere.

At the same time people tried to block the harbour and the socalled “red zone”. From different points of Hamburg people started to march towards the locations where they wanted to block the G20 summit. Although theses marches and blockades were all peaceful, again the cops didn’t allow any kind of protests. Even outside the “red zone” the cops stopped and ruthlessly beaten up every protester they could get. Protesters from the camp in Hamburg Altona had to deal with at least 15 people who were badly injured after a brutal attack by thugs in uniform.  Riot cops were hunting people and several people tried to escape and climbed over a scaffold. The goons in uniform pushed the rest of the protesters against the scaffold  which then collapsed. At least 15 people were badly injured; broken arms, legs and ankles. In the morning hours German finance minister Wolfgang Schäubele had to cancel a G20 meeting because of the blockades. Melania Trump could not take part at the partner program of the G20 and a Japanese delegation was blocked and had to return to their hotel.

In the afternoon thousands started to gather at Millerntor for the second wave of blockades. People wanted to march towards the Elbphilharmonie, where the G20 heads of state wanted to enjoy Beethoven and drink champaign. Again cops attacked peaceful protesters to prevent any kind of protests. People were beaten up with batons, pepper sprayed and kicked. The cops were going crazy again in a way even European hooligans would shock. From this moment people started to defend themselves again, in order to keep the cops on a distance. This all happened befor the massive clashes on friday night. Before shops were looted and before the deployment of SEK squads with machine guns. The video below shows the parallel society the heads of states are living in.

On friday night cops were confronted with the first massive and militant response  at Pferdemarkt and the Schanze district. Again riot cops were hunting people at Pferdemarkt, masked activists started to build barricades and attacked the cops and water cannons. People fought back: determined, organized and again and again. First they forced cops to leave the Schanze district and later the cops were forced to retreat to the uttermost part of Pferdemarkt. Immediately people secured the streets with barricades after they had driven out the cops. The determined resistance was also able to keep water canons on a distance. Again and again the cops tried to take these streets back, but without success. The riot squads that were send in had to retreat multiple times after being attacked with stones and bottles by masked militants. A little bit later the first shop was looted. The first shops that were looted were clear targets; REWE (supermarket chain in Germany), Budnikowsky, a boutique, a Carhart-store and an 02 shop. None of them long-established shops in the Schanze district, but all part of the ongoing gentrification in the district. But from that moment on things started to go wrong. Instead of destroying the bottles with alcohol in the shops that were looted (a must in situations like these), people took them and started to drink. With free alcohol available other people came to the district. More and more organised militant groups retreated and instead there were more and more onlookers, machos and drunken people on the streets. After the organised groups had left the area. even a few fascists appeared in the Schanze district, normally a nogo area for them. The attacks against the cops became uncoordinated, daring and useless. The language became raw and a few journalists were attacked. From that moment on the cops could have easily retaken the Schanze district without any special squads with machine guns. There were no organised groups anymore to defend the district against the cops. There were many people in the area around Rote Flora, but most of them were partying, others were sitting together to have a chat. Many people were dancing on music that came out of open windows from neighbours. The cops were observing the situation from a distance and from the air and decided not to interfere. In other words; The cops were watching when people started looting small shops and people who were drunk started to attack neighbours. Finally, after hours, the cops started to clear the Schanze district. The deployment of German SEK squads and Austrian Cobra squads with machine guns wasn’t necessary, which was probably the reason why police authorities “asked” journalists not to film the police operation. They also “asked” journalists not to takes pictures. There are reports that SEK and Cobra cops pointed their guns on neighbours (Facebook link) and journalists in a few cases. The police operation didn’t take very long and there was no serious resistance anymore.

The escalation by police authorities and the massive clashes on the night before, did not scare of 75.000 people (some reports even estimated more than 100.000 people attended) to come to the final NoG20 demo. The cops attacked a huge kurdish block because of a giant YPG flag (which is banned in Germany), but had to retreat again and people could continue the mostly peaceful march with the YPG flag.

The G20 summit itself had no spectacular results. With China, France, Germany, the UK and USA the worlds biggest arms exporters are part of the G20. In the final document of the G20 summit in Hamburg is written about what the G20 call “forced migration”: “We seek to address the root causes of displacement.” But ofcourse that doesn’t mean the G20 member states will stop exporting arms in war regions like for instance the middle east. Capitalism has many victims. The neo-liberal policies of the G20 causes poverty in many parts of the world, which are not only forcing people in the south to migrate, but also creates a growing number of people being marginalized in the north. If we take the G20 by its word, sentences in the G20 summit final document like the sentence above sound like a request to abolish the causes of “forced migration” which can only mean that we have to abolish capitalism. We should continue to work on that.

Today, Wednesday July 12, there are still 51 people imprisoned. On Saturday July 15 there will be demonstrations against repression to demand the release of all prisoners. One of the demonstrations will start at 02:00pm (14:00) at train station (Bahnhof) Bern, Switzerland. A second demonstration (Facebook link) will take place in front of the JVA prison in Hamburg-Billwerder, 04:00pm (16:00) at the Dweerlandweg.

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