AC­TIVISTS, PO­LICE clash as protests start.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ISAAC STAN­LEY-BECKER In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Michael Birn­baum and Stephanie Kirch­ner of The Wash­ing­ton Post.

HAM­BURG, Ger­many — Ger­man se­cu­rity forces wear­ing riot gear clashed with pro­test­ers on the eve of the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, us­ing wa­ter can­nons and pep­per spray to clear an anti-cap­i­tal­ist march in which a mil­i­tant group with an­ar­chist sym­pa­thies had a prom­i­nent pres­ence.

The skir­mish fol­lowed an hour­long stand­off ad­ja­cent to Ham­burg’s har­bor, where pro­test­ers were at­tempt­ing to move from a pub­lic square to­ward the down­town con­fer­ence cen­ter where Ger­many’s chan­cel­lor, An­gela Merkel, is host­ing for­eign lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, in a two-day sum­mit that be­gins to­day.

When po­lice at­tempted to separate “black bloc” ac­tivists from the roughly 12,000 people who had as­sem­bled to protest in­equal­ity and eco­nomic greed, au­thor­i­ties met a hail of rocks and bot­tles.

As po­lice rushed the group, some of the pro­test­ers fled. But a pha­lanx of ac­tivists dressed in dark clothes, with their faces con­cealed, held their ground. They car­ried signs that con­demned state pow­ers and de­clared, “Wel­come to hell.”

Ar­mored ve­hi­cles spew­ing pow­er­ful bursts of wa­ter rolled to­ward the pro­test­ers. Smoke bombs det­o­nated in the crowd.

Po­lice made some ar­rests but said they did not have a fi­nal tally Thurs­day evening. They said 15 of­fi­cers were in­jured, two of whom were hos­pi­tal­ized. A fur­ni­ture store and a bank were dam­aged, po­lice said.

Medics could be seen treat­ing the in­juries of pro­test­ers on the side­lines of the demon­stra­tion.

After po­lice broke up the throng of anti-state mil­i­tants clad in black, a lively crowd re­mained, re­sist­ing calls to dis­band as they chanted anti-cap­i­tal­ist slo­gans. The show­down per­sisted as the sun set in the north­ern Ger­man port city.

The street marches planned for the sum­mit — em­u­lat­ing the force­ful dis­sent seen at past G-20 gath­er­ings — cover a range of con­cerns, in­clud­ing calls for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, de­nun­ci­a­tions of eth­nic na­tion­al­ism and op­po­si­tion to free trade.

But the Ham­burg protests have gained added mo­men­tum as a stand against Trump and his brand of “Amer­ica First” pop­ulism.

An es­ti­mated 100,000 pro­test­ers were ex­pected to con­verge on the old mer­chant city dur­ing the sum­mit.

Mean­while, 20,000 of­fi­cers were be­ing de­ployed at about 30 reg­is­tered demon­stra­tions, in the largest po­lice op­er­a­tion in Ham­burg’s his­tory. Forty-five wa­ter can­nons were avail­able to dis­perse crowds. A no-fly zone was in place over parts of the city.

“No demon­stra­tor can de­cide whether or where heads of state and govern­ment meet in Ger­many on the chan­cel­lor’s in­vi­ta­tion,” said Thomas de Maiziere, the Ger­man in­te­rior min­is­ter.

Be­fore Thurs­day’s protests be­gan, of­fi­cials raised fears that they could turn vi­o­lent. But the gath­er­ing at first re­sem­bled an open-air con­cert, with bands from around the world per­form­ing. People shared potato stew and passed around art ma­te­ri­als for posters. One sign an­nounced sup­port for the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

Se­bas­tian Keller, 35, said he wanted to high­light how politi­cians serve only eco­nomic in­ter­ests, not av­er­age people.

“I’m not anti-govern­ment, but some­thing has to change so hu­man be­ings get to en­joy a lit­tle bit of the wealth,” said Keller, who grew up in East Ger­many and was 8 years old when the coun­try was re­uni­fied. “Ever since,” he said, “Ger­many has be­come ob­sessed with cap­i­tal­ism.”

Protests were ex­pected to con­tinue to­day and Satur­day, stoked by the pres­ence of con­tentious for­eign lead­ers, in­clud­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan.

Er­do­gan’s pres­ence pits Turk­ish na­tion­al­ists against Kurds in a coun­try with the largest Turk­ish com­mu­nity out­side Turkey. The Ger­man govern­ment has barred Er­do­gan from ad­dress­ing his sup­port­ers at the sum­mit.

Yavuz Fer­soglu, a spokesman for an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion of Kur­dish groups in Ger­many, said Kurds are join­ing hands with anti-glob­al­iza­tion groups for a march on Satur­day, which or­ga­niz­ers say will draw about 100,000 people.

Trump is a par­tic­u­lar flash point.

Plan­ning for protests be­gan be­fore his Novem­ber vic­tory, but “it be­came clear after his elec­tion that the ac­tion would have to be much big­ger,” said Emily La­quer, a spokesman for the In­ter­ven­tion­ist Left, a rad­i­cal left­ist group in Ger­many and Aus­tria.

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