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Hamburg braces for G20 violence as tensions rise over police tactics/The agenda at the G20 Summit July 7th & 8th in Hamburg

The Guardian – Philip Oltermann in Hamburg – Wednesday 5 July 2017

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Photo: A woman talks to a policeman in Hamburg’s Schanzenviertel quarter on Tuesday night. Photograph: Alexander Becher/EPA.

Police chief predicts ‘not just sit-in protests but massive assaults’ as Germany’s second largest city prepares for summit starting on Friday.

Hamburg is bracing itself for an escalation of violence on the eve of Friday and Saturday’s G20 summit, after local people complained that heavy-handed police have ratcheted up tensions in Germany’s second largest city.

A fleet of hi-tech water cannons was used to disperse crowds partying near the conference venue on Tuesday evening. Five people were injured and five arrests made, said police, who have warned that protesters could be hoarding weapons at secret locations.

Authorities in Germany’s second-largest city are preparing for the arrival of an unprecedented lineup of controversial world leaders including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as thousands of international protesters ranging from anti-capitalist activists to middle-class families keen to voice dissent.

Police say they expect a core of about 5,000 violent protesters to gather in the city’s historic port area for a “Welcome to Hell” march just as world leaders and international delegates start arriving at Hamburg airport on Thursday afternoon.

The Hamburg police chief, Ralf Martin Meyer, expressed concerns that the city would see “not just sit-in protests but massive assaults”, as anarchists from Scandinavia, Switzerland and Italy joined up with local activists in a city with a long tradition of leftwing protest and annual May Day riots.

In the run-up to the summit, German police have seized knives, baseball bats and containers presumed to be filled with flammable liquid and unknown chemicals from various locations in and around Hamburg. Jan Hieber, a senior officer, said police had probably only found a small proportion of the weapons that had been stockpiled for use in the protests.

“There is evidence that the acts of violence around the G20 summit that we had expected and feared will take place,” said Meyer. The interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced on Tuesday that 15,000 police would be on duty at the summit.

A note by the German defence ministry leaked to Der Spiegel advises soldiers against wearing their uniforms in public during the summit for fear of becoming targeted by “spontaneous attacks by members of violent-prone participants of leftwing extremist protests”.

The leaked document also mentions plans to “disrupt the summit’s procedure, occupy all access routes and logistics hubs, attack urban infrastructure and blockade the harbour”.

Many local residents complain, however, that heavy-handed policing against peaceful protesters has helped ratchet up tensions in the run-up the G20 meeting on 7 and 8 July. At 11pm on Tuesday, Hamburg police used a new fleet of “WaWe10” water cannons to clear an area between the Schanzenviertel district and FC St Pauli’s football stadium, where hundreds had gathered to drink alcohol and listen to music.

What is on the agenda at the G20 summit in Hamburg?

Authorities in Germany’s second-largest city are preparing for the arrival of an unprecedented line-up of controversial world leaders, as well as protest groups eager to voice dissent, on 7 and 8 July.

Germany has signalled that it will make climate change, free trade and the management of forced mass global migration the key themes of the summit. An agenda along those lines would maximise American isolation and set up a clash between German chancellor Angela Merkel and US president Donald Trump, who will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the summit sidelines.

Also on the sidelines will be a meeting of delegations from the US, Japan and South Korea to discuss North Korea’s 4 July missile test.

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Posted by Teri Perticone

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