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Hamburg police break up unauthorized G20 demos with water cannons

Riot police used water cannon overnight Tuesday to disperse several gatherings of protesters ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

Hamburg police break up unauthorized G20 demos with water cannons
Riot police use a water cannon in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Police first dislodged protesters who had set up tents in a park in the western district of Altona, according to police and media reports.

“This is not a legal rally but unauthorised camping,” said a police spokesman.

A little later, shortly before midnight, police used water cannon and pepper spray to disperse rallies of several hundred people who had started blocking roads in various locations, in particular the Sankt-Pauli neighbourhood.

One person was arrested and a passerby, who was not involved in the demonstration, was slightly injured, according to a police message on Twitter.

On Sunday police used pepper spray as they cleared tents set up by some 600 activists on the banks of the Elbe river.

Anti-G20 protest organisers and the city-state of Hamburg have for weeks sparred in the courts over whether activists could set up tent cities.

Courts have found that, while such a protest camp would in principle be a legitimate political demonstration, police had the right to prohibit overnight camping on public lands.

More than 100,000 anti-capitalist demonstrators, including several thousand leftwing extremists, are expected to descend on the northern city ahead of the summit which opens on Friday.

About 20,000 police will be deployed to protect leaders attending the two-day meeting.

POLICE

German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.

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