Ger­man po­lice clash with pro­test­ers be­fore G-20 sum­mit

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - DAVID RIS­ING

HAM­BURG — Ger­man po­lice clashed with vi­o­lent pro­test­ers Thurs­day in Ham­burg a day ahead of the Group of 20 sum­mit, us­ing wa­ter can­nons, pep­per spray and ba­tons to dis­perse marchers after some at­tacked them with bot­tles and other ob­jects.

The skir­mishes came hours be­fore the two­day gath­er­ing of the world’s top eco­nomic pow­ers gets un­der­way Fri­day morn­ing in Ger­many’s se­cond-big­gest city.

Its host, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, said she hoped the lead­ers would be able to find “com­pro­mises and an­swers” on a wide range of is­sues — although the prospects of find­ing com­mon ground on cli­mate change and trade were un­cer­tain.

Thurs­day evening’s protest as the G-20 lead­ers ar­rived in Ham­burg was ti­tled “G-20: Wel­come to Hell,” and a stand­off be­tween hard­core anti-cap­i­tal­ist pro­test­ers and po­lice de­vel­oped be­fore the march it­self re­ally got go­ing.

Po­lice said they re­peat­edly asked some demon­stra­tors to re­move their masks, to no avail. They then de­cided to separate the group from the rest of the march, which they es­ti­mated at 12,000 people in to­tal.

Black-hooded pro­test­ers at­tacked a po­lice ve­hi­cle with bot­tles and bricks, break­ing its win­dow.

Or­ga­niz­ers quickly called an end to the march after the vi­o­lence broke out, po­lice said. Skir­mishes con­tin­ued, with po­lice ad­vanc­ing down the street with two wa­ter can­nons while be­ing pelted with bot­tles by a group of black-clad people. A nearby build­ing was plas­tered with the slo­gan “Border­less sol­i­dar­ity in­stead of na­tion­al­ism: at­tack the G-20.” A small group on the roof set off fire­works. Po­lice said win­dows at a fur­ni­ture store and a bank were dam­aged. There was no im­me­di­ate word on a num­ber of ar­rests or in­juries.

Many other groups are call­ing for peace­ful protests and are push­ing the G-20 lead­ers for ac­tion to fight cli­mate change and ad­dress eco­nomic dis­par­i­ties in the world. Some are even call­ing for the dis­so­lu­tion of the G-20 it­self so the United Na­tions be­comes the plat­form for such dis­cus­sions.

In all, more than 100,000 pro­test­ers are ex­pected in Ham­burg for the sum­mit, with some 8,000 con­sid­ered part of Europe’s vi­o­lent left-wing scene, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

The north­ern port city has boosted its po­lice with re­in­force­ments from around the coun­try and has 20,000 of­fi­cers on hand to pa­trol Ham­burg’s streets, skies and water­ways.

Merkel is also hop­ing to keep things un­der con­trol in­side the city con­gress cen­tre where the sum­mit is be­ing held. With guests in­clud­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, the search for com­pro­mises is ex­pected to be chal­leng­ing.

Merkel said lead­ers would ad­dress reg­u­lat­ing fi­nan­cial mar­kets, fight­ing ter­ror­ism and pan­demics and com­bat­ting cli­mate change, among other is­sues. She said “free, rule-based and fair trade” will be an im­por­tant is­sue.

“You can imag­ine that there will be dis­cus­sions that will not be easy,” she said. “Glob­al­iza­tion can be a win-win sit­u­a­tion. It must not al­ways be that there are win­ners and losers.”

In the wake of Trump’s re­cent de­ci­sion to pull out of the Paris deal fight­ing cli­mate change, the bat­tle against global warm­ing prom­ises to fea­ture promi­nently in dis­cus­sions at the sum­mit.

Merkel has re­jected calls from some to push for a strong “G-19” state­ment — with­out the U.S. — on cli­mate change. That is some­thing that Zhu Guangyao, a Chi­nese deputy fi­nance min­is­ter, told re­porters Thurs­day that Bei­jing also did not sup­port.

“The poli­cies pro­duced by the G-20 should be by the con­sen­sus of all mem­ber states,” he said. “No one should be ex­cluded.”

Still, he added, “China will firmly pro­mote its poli­cies tak­ing more mea­sures against cli­mate change.”

THOMAS LOHNES, GETTY IM­AGES

Demon­stra­tors gather at Ham­burg har­bour prior to the “Wel­come to Hell” G20 protest march Wed­nes­day. More large-scale protests are ex­pected.

CHRISTOPHE GATEAU, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A car burns dur­ing a G-20 protest in Ham­burg.

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