Protests, arrests rock G-20 summit as police clash with activists

Thousands took to the streets.

Police officers carry a demonstrator who blocked a street on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Friday, July 7, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Police officers carry a demonstrator who blocked a street on the first day of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Friday, July 7, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

Protesters demonstrating against U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders clashed with German riot police in Hamburg on Friday as the G-20 summit kicked off.

With some calling the demonstration “Welcome to Hell,” thousands of activists flooded the German city’s streets, yelling “This is what democracy looks like!” and other slogans. Police told reporters they expected about 100,000 protesters in the city, at least 13,000 of whom participated in an initial march on Thursday.

Around 1,000 members of that march were black-clad anarchists, though the demands and politics of the protesters in Hamburg range wildly. Many said they were demonstrating against globalization and capitalism. Others protested the policies of certain leaders, like Trump, who has targeted immigrants and Muslims, in addition to withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and authoritarian leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Others expressed dissatisfaction with the outsized importance of the summit, which brings together the world’s 20 most powerful economies and attracts wide-scale protests virtually every year.

“It’s not right that a few countries get to decide what happens to the rest of the world at this summit,” one protester, Christian, who declined to give his surname, told CNN, a sentiment echoed by Eulalia Gomez, a Spanish citizen, to NBC.

“I don’t think it’s fair that only 20 countries are making all the economic decisions of the world,” she said.

A number of the protesters worked to avoid direct clashes with police, while others took a different approach. Cars were set aflame and the tires of the Canadian delegation were slashed. Attempting to disrupt the summit, some reportedly hurled rocks and bottles, which were met with tear gas and water cannons by police. Video footage showed protesters shielding themselves from water with umbrellas as they were sprayed:

At least 159 police officers were injured, but per the official Hamburg police Twitter handle no information was immediately available on the number of protesters arrested or hurt.

The protests also kept some summit attendees indoors. Spouses of world leaders typically attend a host of events during the summit, but U.S. First Lady Melania Trump was unable to leave her accommodations as protesters gathered outside her guest house. “The Hamburg police could not give us clearance to leave,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokesperson for the First Lady, said. “She was prevented from participating in today’s spousal program, which she was looking forward to.”


Trump herself tweeted her concern for those injured in the clashes, while making no connection between the demonstrations and her husband’s policies:

Seemingly undaunted by police, protesters continued their demonstrations as the summit went on. One student protester, Karl S (no full last name given), told CNN that stopping the event was unlikely, but even momentarily disrupting it sent a message.

“I’m sure we can’t stop all these leaders from meeting but if we can stop them from getting their food or catering shortly we’ve achieved something,” he said.