Julia Reusing stood teary eyed under a strip of halogen lights in Hamburg’s red light district as the late summer sun’s lingering light turned to dusk.
Standing in front of the 27-year-old Frankfurt native on Thursday evening, were a group of anti-capitalist protesters — frustrated after their “Welcome to Hell” demonstration was interrupted.
Police, who had contained the crowd with tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons, said they were responding to violent protesters, known as the Black Bloc, who had shown up with their faces and heads completely covered.
Reusing said the police would have intervened regardless, using any small incident as a catalyst to shut the protest down.
“If this is all we can do just for showing our opinion and giving a statement — and if the state forces are just shutting us up… I mean what kind of state do we live in,” she said.
Hamburg police told CNN that a full assessment of the overall police response at the anti-G20 demonstrations would come at a later time.
“Welcome to Hell” was the first of over 30 planned demonstrations in the days before, during and after the G20 Summit. On Saturday, Hamburg Police said 213 officers were injured, at least 114 protesters were arrested and 98 detained over the three days.
When German Chancellor and G20 host Angela Merkel announced her hometown of Hamburg as the summit’s location, some feared that the city and its 1.8 million residents would suffer.
The security required to welcome world leaders such as US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan would be disruptive to residents and businesses. But Merkel pressed ahead.
At the same time, demonstrators from across Germany and further afield prepared to exercise their right to assemble.Authorities implemented a “Red-Zone” an area sectioned off to all but the G20 leaders and their convoys and administrators. At least 15,000 riot police were deployed.
Twenty-five-year-old student Merle M., who declined to give her last name and was protesting over migration rights, told CNN the “Red Zone” demonstrated that leaders were “trying to delete the right to protest.”
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SOURCE: Kara Fox