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Hamburg street festival ends in rioting - again

DDP/The Local · 5 Sep 2010, 09:56

Published: 05 Sep 2010 09:56 GMT+02:00

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The peaceful and friendly festival lasted all afternoon, with stands and music filling the streets of the Schanzenviertel area, only overshadowed by the expectation of a descent into rioting.

The atmosphere remained relaxed until darkness at around 8 pm, when the huge police presence, complete with water cannon, became obvious around the access roads into the area around the squatted building known as Rote Flora.

Critics say that such a show of force – with officers drawn from around the country – acts as a provocative challenge to potential rioters.

But Christoph Alhaus, Hamburg’s new mayor and former interior minister with responsibility for such decisions, along with his successor in that office, Heino Vahldieck, said the police would act decisively against any sign of riot.

By 9:30 pm the area around the Rota Flora was tense and the streets were empty of anyone other than people holding beer bottles – and the police.

This year the pubs and restaurants in the immediate area were not only closed but largely barricaded.

But it seems the mood has changed – particularly after rioters this May smashed up local shops rather than the banks and drug stores. Some closed up bars bore signs saying, "Closed against violence."

Some locals were even seen actively trying to prevent the rioting – throwing buckets of water on burning piles of rubbish and pulling apart barricades.

Story continues below…

But by 11 pm the erection of a barricade on one street attracted the attention of the police, who were then showered with stones, bottles and some fireworks.

They retaliated with baton charges and water cannons for around two hours, eventually taking control of the streets around Rota Flora and pushing the rioters out of the area.

Several arrests were made, with numbers not yet clear, while at least one police officer and a number of anarchists were injured.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

01:27 September 6, 2010 by Bishopbayern
I agree. hamburg is a discgrace and always ends up in riots. And ots not the fault of the Police that this happened it the trash of hamburg that need sorted out.
12:20 September 6, 2010 by Actuality
The two comments obove are ill-informed knee-jerk reactions.

Ask yourselves this; all year round the area is peaceful, and yet on one night of the year there is trouble.

What is different that one night of the year?

Barricades, riot police, and a virtual cordon around the area after 8pm.

This is a deliberate act of provocation by the police.

These tactics are used all the time by the state, most recently in London during G8 protests, where one man was even murdered by a police officer.

They box people in and create a threatening presence that always erupts into violence, which they can then use to discredit "extremists".

Almost nothing in this world looks more scary and "extremist" to me than a fully-kitted out riot policeman.

Long live the Flora!!!
18:31 September 6, 2010 by heathen
Law abiding citizens have nothing to fear in this situation. Why do the cops show up in force? Because these a-holes are always there looking for a fight and who would they fight if the cops weren't there? I route for the cops in this situation. What would happen if the cops weren't there? Do you think these gormless twits would go home peacefully? Most of us think not. If you think the cops are brutal here, why don't you try your riot sht in commie and/or islam countries.
22:41 September 6, 2010 by Michael Woodbridge
Actuality suggests that the police deliberately provoke the "protesters". Why should the police want to do that though? My experience of police in England is that they prefer to avoid trouble even to the extent of allowing mobs of trouble makers to silence free speech rather than deal firmly with the culprits. Is it different in Germany?
13:47 September 7, 2010 by Eastard
I wonder if any former rioters were among those remaining after hours looking for a contest with the police..? Anyone who thinks not should return to Kindergarten for another year of basic logic. Any city with repeat civil disobedience has the obligation to assure those doing so will loose and to protect the business properties... Let's say the police were not there at all... would the rioters damage the business AGAIN...if so what do you do next year... It is unfortunate that police presence must be called... but only for those asking for it..
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