AS IT HAPPENED: Rioting steals attention from politics on first day of G20 summit

AFP/DPA/The Local
AFP/DPA/The Local - [email protected]
AS IT HAPPENED: Rioting steals attention from politics on first day of G20 summit

Shocking scenes of rioting have emerged from Hamburg on Friday, where the G20 summit officially started. The Local was on the ground in the port city.


In short:

  • The G20 summit got underway in Hamburg on Friday with climate change, North Korea and free trade all on the agenda
  • World leaders including Donald Trump arrived in the harbour city on Thursday
  • A 12,000-person protest descended into violence on Thursday night, with police clashing with masked protesters across two Hamburg districts
  • On Friday, the first violence had already been recorded shortly after 9am
  • Videos have been posted online showing rioters smashing windows and burning cars on the harbour front
  • Hamburg police sent out an emergency request for backup from across the country on Friday morning
  • Clashes between police and masked rioters continued into the night, with almost 200 officers reported injured

SEE ALSO: Cars burn after police break up first major G20 protest with water cannons

10.11 pm - There are still serious disturbances in Hamburg, with police reporting being attacked from a scaffold in Sternschanze by rioters using sling shots. A REWE supermarket has also reportedly been plundered in the neighbourhood.

These crimes will probably continue well into the night. But we are going to get some sleep so we can be wide awake for the second day of the G20 on Saturday.

Emma Anderson will be at the Merkel press conference (if she can get through the police controls.)


9.31 pm - Now almost 200 officers injured during rioting: police

9.30 pm - The Local has spoken with a woman who just breathed in a mouthful of tear gas

After the apparent black bloc group attacked the police van and ran away, people on the street said police then ran towards them and threw pepper spray/ irritant gas, even though the black bloc were long gone, Emma Anderson writes about a clash she just witnessed.

About ten people ran inside the bar where Anderson had taken cover, one woman holding her eyes, and the barman shut the door. Most inside, even those who had not been outside, started coughing.

The woman who ran inside holding her eyes went to the restroom to rinse them, she said her inner chest still burns.

The woman, Elke Dumbsky, is a St Pauli native.

"This is my city," she says. "And I wanted to protest against the backgrounds and policies of the world leaders at the G20."

Grey haired and middle-aged, she says she is not part of the black bloc.

9.01 pm - 'Whole area is madness'. Black bloc attack police with rocks in front of The Local reporter

Emma Anderson: "I was trying to get back to Schanzenviertel from St Pauli and the whole area was just madness. I came to the back of a police blockade, they had water cannon and an armoured, military-like vehicle. As I was sitting there hoping the police line would break something like 100 police or more started pouring in. There were easily several hundred just in this little area."

She just saw a hoard of black bloc running past her carrying rocks bigger than a hand and bottles, there was just a boom.

"They are throwing rocks and bottles at police," she said.

Police responded by counter attacking.

She sounds very calm, and says it is because she is listening to Reggae music (in a bar). Lyrics are "Every little thing is going to be alright."

People have rushed into the bar coughing because of tear gas.

Emma Anderson finishes the phone call coughing herself from the fumes.

8.55 pm - Stand off in St. Pauli, protesters throw rocks, police use water cannons

The Local reporter Emma Anderson has this report from the Hamburg neighbourhood St. Pauli:

At the intersection of Budapester Strasse and Neue Pferdemarkt, hundreds of police have been in a stand off with protesters for about an hour, protesters throwing rocks and other objects while police have used water cannons.

Meanwhile passive protesters on the police side are dipping in and out of bars trying to enjoy the St. Pauli night life.

She has talked to a group of three friends who have met on the street corner as they normally do on a Friday night.

"In general I support the protests, but not the kind with stone throwing," says Stefan while smoking a cigarette. "But also the police response has been excessive."

"Whoever decided to have the G20 here does not remember Hamburg's left wing history," adds Carsten. "The politicians are kept away, seeing a nice concert at the Elbphilharmonie and only seeing the city from their hotle rooms. So what's the point of having it here?"

8.45 pm - Stay away from riots and leave riot areas immediately, police warn

Hamburg police have a message in English for protesters.

But whether people can get away is not certain. The Local reporter Emma Anderson found her path away from demonstrations in St. Pauli blocked by police. An officer told her "looks like you will have to live here for the time being."

8.13 pm - World leaders are now at a Beethoven concert at the Elbphilharmonie...

...Meanwhile a police officer just fired his pistol into the air as "a warning shot", after he was attacked by a group of rioters in the Schanzenviertel.

Whatever side of the argument on the importance of G20 is correct, the absurdity of that contrast is quite hard to overstate. Fiddling, Rome and burning are three words that spring to mind.

8.05 pm - Putin and Trump showed 'clear positive chemistry' in talks

Who would have thought it? The macho world leaders apparently like each other. This from AFP:

US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin shared a "clear positive chemistry" during their first face-to-face talks Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

"As to the nature of the two hours and 15 minutes, let me characterise: the meeting was very constructive, the two leaders I would say, connected very quickly," said Tillerson, adding "there was a very clear positive chemistry between the two".


Trump "accepted" Russian leader Vladimir Putin's assurance that Moscow did not meddle in America's election, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, after the closely scrutinised first meeting.

"President Trump said he heard clear statements from Putin that (the allegations of meddling) are not true, and that Russian authorities did not
intervene, and he accepted these declarations," said Lavrov, who sat in the power meet between the US and Russia leaders.

So, looks like that is all sorted - thank heavens for the G20!

6.45 pm - Things have calmed down on the Reeperbahn

6.25 pm - Water cannon on the Reeperbahn

The Local Reporter Emma Anderson is on the Reeperbahn, a street notorious for its brothels and strip bars. But that's not why she is there.

She has been following a demo that police have used water cannons to try and disperse.

5.00 pm - 'We are their employers, we need to be heard'

The Local has spoken to two protesters in central Hamburg

Anna came to protest from Dorsten, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Holding a sign that read “United we stand” she said that “I came here to show that politics should be people over profit, and to show that we are also interested in politics.”

Decisions should not come just from above but also from the people,” she added.

Asked what impact the riots would have on public perceptions of the protests, she said “there are also many people here who are demonstrating peacefully, most are not rioting. I hope people see that.”

Andreas, also from Dorsten, said “we are essentially the employers of the world leaders because we pay them our taxes. I am not against them having the G20. It is good the at they get together. But we need to make ourselves heard.”

4.40 pm - Close up video of riots shot on Thursday

If anyone is under any illusion that the members of the black bloc are in it for anything more than an adrenaline rush, they should watch this video shot from the rioters' point of view which has turned the whole thing into some kind of extreme sport.

4.20 Emma Anderson has come across a clash at the Alter Elbpark in central Hamburg

The Local reporter Emma Anderson could hear popping noises as she approached the park, When she got there a group of around a dozen police suddenly rushed up a hill in pursuit of a handful of masked people. They then charged across a bridge before giving up the chase.

Police in Alter Elbpark. Photo: Emma Anderson

Someone at the top of the hill told her that someone had thrown a fire cracker. That set of the chase.

The situation seems unstable. Other protesters have formed a barricade out of dumpsters leading police to chase them. Police have now formed a line but are letting people through.

Police also report major clashes in St. Pauli.

4.03 pm - 'I'm a local and I just want to go to the supermarket'

This picture has been doing the social media rounds.

3.52 pm - 'Petty bourgeois shocked by burning cars and ignoring police violence'

Anyone who reads German and wants an interesting insight into how elitist and detached from reality the 'radical left' in this country are, may want to read this article which mocks the German middle classes for making a fuss when they see cars burning in their streets.

The message: "You shouldn't be afraid of masked men marauding through your streets burning everything, you should fear the police who tried to arrest those people at demos."

3.38 pm - The long-awaited first handshake between Putin and Trump

Photo: DPA

And is this Trump pushing Macron as he notoriously did to the PM of Montenegro at the last G7 summit?

Photo: DPA

3.26 pm - Smashed up banks and boarded up shops

Emma Anderson is now walking through the places hit by rioting. She has seen a bank with its windows smashed in, boarded up shops, and more burned out cars.

3.14 pm - One we didn't post earlier

This video was recorded in Altona early this morning. Massive journalistic cliche - but it really does look like a war zone.

3.06 pm - Burned out cars in Altona

Emma Anderson has found more debris from the morning's violence - two burned out cars on Klopstockstrasse. The windows are also smashed in at a nearby registry office.

Now she is heading back to near the summit venue, where the next big demo is being organized.

3.01pm - 'We won’t let ourselves be put under siege'

Emma Anderson has spoken to Giorgio Ellero, the manager of an Italian restaurant in Altona, whose windows were smashed in.

“We were hit this morning at about 7.30 am -  our neighbor told us that two or three masked people smashed the windows.

“Of course you feel angry about what happened. But the G20 shouldn't have happened in Hamburg - the city mayor is responsible, he thought it was right to have the G20 in Hamburg.

“Now the little people like us are the ones impacted. To me the G20 should not be in a big city, it should be somewhere like an island where people won't be as impacted.”

“We will stay open. We won’t let ourselves be put under siege - we are strong,” he added.

His business partner also said that on his way into work “the U-Bahn was like a war zone.”

2.50 pm - Army 'transporting materials on orders from the police'

More on the photo of armoured army vehicles driving through central Hamburg. Spiegel have spoken to the Bundeswehr (German army), who say they were transporting materials on orders from the police.

2.22 pm - 'You always have to be ready for riots'

Emma Anderson is in Altona, the focal point of the violence. She has spoken to a police officer at Altona train station.

“I was sent in to help protect the station after there was small riot nearby. Everything is calm at the moment," the cop, who has been called in from Schleswig-Holstein, said.

Asked whether rioters will return, he replied: “Most likely. You must always be ready.”

But he didn’t seem too fussed by the fact police were being targeted.

“It’s too stressful to always be stressed out,” he explained

Emma Anderson reports that the part of Altona she is in is “very calm at the moment.”

“There are small groups [of rioters] going to different areas,” she explains, based on talks with police and journalists in the district. “Something will happen and then they will quickly disperse. By the time you get there they are all gone.”

“There is not a huge police presence at Altona station, maybe four or five officers inside."

But there are not a lot of shops open, in contrast to the Schanzenviertel in central Hamburg, where people were chilling in cafes this morning. At the same time she has only seen minimal damage, and no shops boarded up.

“People are going about their days. It’s business as usual.”

2.15 pm - Map shows flash points around the city

2.10 pm - Melania Trump stuck at residence due to G20 demos

US First Lady Melania Trump is stuck inside her guesthouse in Hamburg due to anti-G20 protests on Friday, her spokeswoman told German news agency DPA, which was confirmed by US sources.

A programme of events in the northern Germany city involving Trump and other spouses has had to be severely curtailed because of the demonstration, other sources said.

2.03 pm - Cat and mouse game
The rioters' attacks on police have been described as a game of cat and mouse - that seems to be true in Holstenstraße. Police reported being attacked with Molotov cocktails there a little under an hour ago. Emma Anderson is now there and she says the situation is calm.

A journalist she spoke to said:”The group moves fast and when one thing happens they are gone the next minute.”

1.57 pm - Police deny army is getting involved

Police have responded to a photo of an armoured vehicle belonging to the army, deny ing soldiers are getting involved.

"we are receiving no support from the army at the G20. There are clear constitutional limits on how we operate," they tweet.

1.48 pm - Are army moving into Altona?

A picture has just been posted on Twitter by Christoph Löffler, a photographer in Hamburg. It shows armed vehicles belonging to the Bundeswehr (Germany army) moving towards Altona. If true that would be an incredibly unusual move - using the army for internal security in Germany is a huge taboo. 

Hamburg police have made no official mention of the army being involved in crowd control today, although the Bundeswehr, navy and air force have all been deployed in Hamburg to back up the police.

1.35 pm - Police being attacked with Molotov Cocktails in Altona

No let up in Altona - police report being attacked with Molotov cocktails on Holstenstraße and say barricades are burning there. Emma Anderson is on her way to the scene.

Police have also posted a picture of an officer with a pellet wound in his upper arm. It allegedly happened Thursday night and they say it wasn't an isolated incident.

1.33 pm - Number of injured police officers rises to 159

A police spokesman has raised the number of police officers injured so far in running battles with demonstrators late Thursday and overnight to 159 with 45 arrests.

1.29 pm - Serious security at G20 venue

There might be rioting in the west of Hamburg, but in the central area where the state leaders are meeting there is a huge police presence.

1.28 pm - Federal police attacked by group of 60 masked people

At Altona train station federal police report being attacked by a group of 60 masked people on Friday morning. Three police vehicles were attacked and damaged and one officer was lightly injured when someone smashed in the window of his vehicle with a hammer.

30 federal police officers have been injured so far in the riots. Four are unable to carry on working due to suffering concussion and eye injuries. The federal police are responsible for guarding Germany’s transport network and borders.

1.18 pm - ‘200 people we have shown millions it's possible to bring people onto streets’

AFP have spoken to an anarchist at a protest:

One 30-year-old self-described anarchist, refusing to give his name, was unapologetic for the violence as he helped dry off fellow protesters drenched by police water canons.

"With 200 people we have shown to millions of people that it's possible to bring people onto the streets and make clear that we are not going to simply accept everything decided by the people at the top," he told AFP.

"And we believe that we have brought across a pretty good message - that it's possible to protest and that there is no need to be scared of the police," he said.

1.11 pm - Some delegations delayed in arrival at summit venue

AFP reports that the President of Indonesia and other delegations were delayed by flash blockades on their way to the summit.

US President Donald Trump's armoured presidential limo dubbed "The Beast" made it through without complications.

With smoke rising over the city, groups of 50-100 people blocked intersections and roads meant for delegations' noisy, flashing motorcades to shuttle between meetings, AFP reporters said.

Police, with a sweeping bird's eye view through half a dozen helicopters, coordinated from a high tech centre, were quick to respond with riot police, water cannon and tear gas.

1.07 pm - Emma Anderson is still at the G20 venue.
She reports being treated with hostility by Berlin police, who are supporting their Hamburg colleagues, as she tried to get inside.
Berlin cops wouldn't let her through their lines so she could pick up her press pass. But when she skipped past them and spoke to Hamburg police she had no problems.

12.50 pm - Also plenty of peaceful protesting

Amid the riots it is easy to forget that peaceful protests have taken place, while many demonstrators have engaged in peaceful attempts to obstruct the summit.

In the police's midday summary they noted three anti-capitalist demos all converging on Stübenplatz, which took place without incident. Meanwhile Spiegel youth magazine Bento reports on high school kids bunking off school to take part in a protest for better global education.

12.36 pm -  G20 to press Trump to rejoin climate deal: May

Back at the summit - this from AFP:

G20 leaders meeting in Hamburg will seek to persuade US President Donald Trump to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate change accord, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday.

"I believe it is possible. We're not renegotiating the Paris Agreement - that stays. But I want to see the United States looking for ways to rejoin it," May told the BBC.

"I believe the collective message that will be given to President Trump around this table will be the importance of America coming back into that agreement, and I hope we will be able to work to ensure that can happen."

May had previously expressed to Trump her "disappointment" at his decision to pull the US out of the hard-fought climate deal, which was signed by 195 countries including the United States.

She is due to meet Trump Friday for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit.

12.25 pm - Emma Anderson has found a polite note to rioters in a shop window

In a shop window a note reads: "We should really be grateful that you are making sure that other people earn money (e.g. window cleaners) through your creativity - maybe that is your contribution to the economy. But please do more of the really important things like demonstrating, protesting and celebrating that are necessary at the moment."

12.21 pm - Police report a flare being shot at one of their helicopters

This actually came in almost an hour ago. Police tweet that a flare was fired at one of their helicopters. almost hitting it.

12.18 pm - More terrifying footage emerges from Altona

The police seem to have completely lost control in Altona. Masked rioters are smashing up shop fronts, terrifying people who live there, as this video shows.

12.15 pm - Trump, Putin in first handshake at G20 summit: Kremlin

US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin exchanged a handshake for the first time on Friday as they arrived for the G20 summit in Germany, the Kremlin said.

"They shook hands and said they will meet separately and see each other soon," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The billionaire tycoon and the ex-KGB agent's meeting later Thursday in the German port city of Hamburg promises to be one of the year's most scrutinised political encounters.

Ahead of the meeting, both men said they were looking forward to finally sitting down for talks.

"I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Asked if Putin felt the same about the talks, Peskov said: "Affirmative".

12.10 pm - Map of Altona, area hit by rioting

Here is a map which shows Altona, the neighbourhood where most of the rioting has been concentrated.

11.50 am - Hamburg police call for reinforcements from other parts of country

Spiegel reports that Hamburg police have sent out an emergency notification to other German states calling for them to send "all available forces" to help quell the riots.

11.44 am - Report of a kindergarten being attacked by rioters

Spiegel's youth edition Bento is reporting that rioters have attacked a kindergarten on the Elbschausee in Altona. Parents are warned to immediately pick up their children and close the door as soon as they are inside the building.

11.36 am - 'Altona is hell right now'

A lot of the rioting has been based around Altona, a district on the northwest bank of the Elbe River. Several videos posted on line shows plumes of smoke rising in every direction as cars burn all over the place. One tweet posted at 11.26 am says simply: "Altona is hell right now."

11.21 am - Merkel welcomes Trump and other leaders at start of summit

Angela Merkel greets Donald Trump on Friday. Photo: DPA

Angela Merkel has had photo ops with several world leaders at the start of the summit. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan all got hand shakes. The European leaders have been getting kisses (on the cheek).

11.00 am - Protests peaceful outside summit venue

The Local's Emma Anderson has been at a protest at the Sternschanze Park, which is adjacent to the summit venue. She has only seen peaceful protests. The police are dressed in riot gear and have water cannons there, although they have not been used from what she has observed.

Protesters have been dancing in front of the police vehicles while chanting "This is what democracy looks like, this is what a police state looks like" - apparently contrasting their behaviour with that of the G20 summit.

10.47 am - Police complain of tiredness

Reporter Emma Anderson is now walking alongside a column of Hamburg police. One officer told her: "We only got two hours of sleep and now we're working again this morning."

10.35 am - First guests arrive at venue

Police tweet that the first state leaders have managed to reach the summit venue without facing hindrances. Emma Anderson is at the intersection of Kleiner Schäfercamp and Schröderstiftstraße near the summit venue, where police have blocked off the road. She is being blocked from getting through to the protest by officers.

10.30 am - Police warn people to clear streets while state leaders pass through

Police tell people to keep away from streets where state leaders are being transported.

"Don't bring yourselves unnecessarily into danger," they tweet.

10.22 am - Video emerges of rioters smashing and burning everything in sight

A video has been posted to YouTube on Friday morning showing black-clothed rioters marauding down a street, setting fire to cars and smashing in windows. According to the video, the street is the Elbchaussee, which runs along the river Elbe.

10.11am - It's not all bad though. In the Sternschanze district - which was hit by riots last night - The Local's reporter Emma Anderson has found a sleepy park, but there was even a protest there - accompanied by a large number of police officers.

"There seem to be as many police as protesters here, but it seems peaceful," Emma says.

10.06 am - Smoke billowing from burned cars

A video has just been posted on Twitter that makes Hamburg look terrifying at the moment. Smoke can be seen rising from several burned out cars.

10.01 am - Protesters near Trump's lodging can't be budged by police

Spiegel have posted a Tweet of a group of protesters near Trump's lodgings who refuse to move despite being sprayed with water cannons. They are cleverly deploying umbrellas against the water.

9.59 am - Protesters block routes between G20 venues

In the west of the city, a "plume of black smoke" was rising on Friday morning, and cars in some areas had been set alight, the local Hamburg police have said.

Police said demonstrators had blocked several intersections and so-called transfer corridors - roads designated to help delegations move between meetings.

9.47 am - Did the police aggravate the riots?

The Local reporter Emma Anderson is in Hamburg. The host of her Airbnb tells her that friends were at the Welcome to Hell protest on Thursday evening, where 76 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters.

"A friend of mine said the police started it. They were standing peacefully, listening to some music, and my friends weren't masked. Then the police used tear gas, then the water guns," she explained.

"It very quickly changed in one moment, and then they wanted to separate the demonstration.

"The whole crowd was blocked inside by police. It was violent from the police side, but also from the side of the demonstrators, then they came to the Sternschanze and then I knew it was going to get violent. In Hamburg, it's a city of the left."

Despite her neighbourhood being known for its left-wing scene, the host says "No, I am not scared. I am fine."

9.39 am - Merkel: Trump isolated at G20 over climate change

US President Donald Trump faces isolation at Friday's G20 summit over his climate sceptic stance, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, noting that many countries are determined to honour the landmark Paris accord.

Trump may have vowed to pull the US out of the 2015 climate protection deal, but "many many other countries want to go on implementing" it, Merkel told journalists before a meeting with the US president.

Efforts to halt climate change is a key issue that world leaders gathering from Friday in the German port city of Hamburg are struggling to find consensus on.

Merkel has said that the talks on the issue would "not be easy" with Trump, who has once called climate change a Chinese hoax.

"We are not going to paper over the differences but rather, we will call discord discord. Because there are also different opinions on some important questions," she said.

9.25 am - Police cars torched
The aftermath of Thursday's rioting in the Sternschanze district. Photo: DPA

Protesters clashed with police and torched patrol cars in the German city of Hamburg on Friday in fresh violence ahead of the G20 summit, police said.

"An operation is under way against violent individuals" who threw petrol bombs and set fire to patrol cars near a police station in the city's Altona district, federal police said on Twitter.


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