Fresh scuffles between protesters and police marked the end of the G20 summit in Hamburg which, for several days and nights, has been engulfed by extremely violent riots that shocked even the organizers of the series of mass demonstrations in the German city.
The biggest event Saturday, attracted more than 50,000 left-wing activists who marched in a ‘G20-not welcome’ demonstration. While most of the march was peaceful, a group of about 120 people attacked officers with flagpoles, prompting police to use batons, pepper spray and water canons to control the crowd.
Four policemen were injured in a scuffle in Millerntorplatz where an additional 4,000 people gathered to mark the end of the two-day high profile gathering with a final rally.
There was considerably less violence Saturday, after organizers of Thursday and Friday’s “Welcome to Hell” street protests conceded that the anarchists’ protests had gone too far with their “senseless violence.”
Piles of debris, burned-out barricades, smashed shops and shattered glass transformed Hamburg into a scene resembling a battlefield by Saturday.
“The way in which last night’s action has been carried out has, in our opinion, crossed… [the] red line,” the movement’s speaker Andreas Blechschmidt was quoted as saying by the DPA news agency.
At least 213 policemen had been injured in the sustained riots which erupted Thursday.
The final figure of those arrested during violent scuffles will be provided Sunday, police said.
So far, authorities said they have issued 23 arrest warrants. In addition, some 41 activists will remain in police custody for an extended period of time while 118 pople will be detained by authorities for shorter spells, DW reports, adding that an additional 44 detentions happened by Saturday afternoon.
Reuters meanwhile reports that 143 people were arrested and 122 taken into custody over the past several days.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the brutal violence which seen stores vandalized, cars torched and police lines attacked.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the extreme violence and unbridled brutality that police were repeatedly confronted with,” Merkel said following the G20 summit.
“There is no justification for plundering, arson and brutal attacks on the lives of police officers… anyone who acts in this way places himself outside our democratic community,” she said according to Reuters.
The Chancellor said she had consulted with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble (CDU) to examine how, together with Hamburg authorities, the government can help compensate the victims of the violence.
The German Minister of the Interior announced that anti-globalization protesters have been preparing their activities for a year and a half.
“The security authorities knew that,” he said in Dresden, criticizing Hamburg’s authorities for partly permitting the erection of protest camps, where the “strategic preparation for the acts of violence had arisen,” Thomas de Maiziere from Merkel’s CDU said.
Hamburg’s mayor Olaf Scholz meanwhile expressed hope that “the violators that we have captured… will have to face very high penalties.”