Protests intensified in Hamburg Friday as world leaders gathered in the German city for the G20 summit. After a turbulent night of demonstrations that left cars burned and more than 100 officers and dozens of protesters injured, Friday’s rallies appeared to start off peaceably, with demonstrators calmly chanting as they faced down riot cops.
And such peaceful (and, uh, creative?) rallies continued throughout the day across Hamburg.
But pockets of more violent protests also broke out on the streets, and some protesters tried to barricade intersections to prevent G20 leaders from getting to their meetings. (First Lady Melania Trump was reportedly unable to leave for a period because of security concerns on Friday, and a visit to a climate research center was scrapped.) Protesters tried to storm the secure areas where the world leaders were gathered, pushed back by police in riot gear. At least 15 people have been arrested across Hamburg, with dozens more detained.
Protesters also pushed close to the place where between Russian president Vladimir Putin had his very long meeting with President Trump, and in another spot about 350 protesters managed to crack the police line before being pushed back with pepper spray and billy clubs, reports the New York Times.
The Guardian described an incongruous scene Friday evening. Police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters outside the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, where within its walls leaders sat and listened to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
Friday’s escalations mirrored the Thursday-night protests that also turned violent. Anti-capitalist demonstrators at the “Welcome to Hell” rally clashed with police officers, reportedly throwing bottles and flares. Rioters also set fire to cars and smashed windows while cops in riot gear tried to break up the crowds with water cannons and pepper spray.
The police presence will remain tight in Hamburg throughout the weekend, with helicopters buzzing overhead and at least 20,000 police officers being deployed, including a hefty contingent around the convention center in Hamburg’s harbor, where the G20 events are taking place. According to the Washington Post, cops are prepping for at least 30 organized anti-G20 events through Saturday, making this one of the largest police operations in Hamburg’s history.
Those protests will keep up through the weekend as the G20 summit continues. More than 100,000 protesters are expected to show up on Saturday.
At least one prominent New Yorker will be among those 100,000. The office of Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that the mayor would be heading to Hamburg to attend some events around the summit, including delivering a keynote address at a Saturday event, “Hamburg Shows Attitude,” to protest the policies of certain leaders at the summit, including Putin and Donald Trump. The mayor caught some pushback for leaving town in the wake of the tragic murder of an NYPD officer, but the trip had apparently been scheduled since last week.
De Blasio, who called in long-distance for his Friday spot on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show,” called the situation with violent protesters in Hamburg “very tense.”
But at least de Blasio got to check out some of Hamburg’s sites, including its City Hall, and he even dragged Dante (who’s abroad in Germany this summer) to come along with him.
This post has been updated throughout.