On July 6, the first day of an international mobilization against the 2017 G20 summit in Germany, the police brutally attacked the Welcome to Hell demonstration involving over 10,000 people. On July 7, demonstrations and mobilizations continued on unprecedented level, matching the riots Germany saw in the 1980s. On July 8, tens of thousands of people participated in a massive march and festive demonstration.
We posted continuous live updates throughout the week, providing firsthand reports and analysis of the events in Hamburg. Read on to follow these historic events.
On the afternoon of July 9, 2017, summoned by social media, a throng of fresh-faced members of the middle class descended upon the Schanze neighborhood to erase all traces of popular dissent and self-defense that remained from the preceding days’ conflicts.
For the most part, these were people who had not previously concerned themselves with the G20 or the protests against it. Police violence, the suppression of dissent, poverty, gentrification, and other symptoms of capitalism are fine, apparently, but heaven forbid anything out of the ordinary happens. They hung cute little handmade signs protesting against the “violence” of the black bloc—they were comfortable with the brutal raid on the camp, with the unprovoked attack on the Welcome to Hell march, and with all the police who terrorized random Hamburg locals as well as activists, but when people began to defend themselves against the arbitrary assaults of fully-armored stormtroopers and exert a little leverage back on the government that forced the G20 on Hamburg in the first place, it offended their sensibilities.
Hamburg räumt auf—“Hamburg tidies up”—was the slogan for this stunt. It would be more precise to call it Hamburg räumt träume auf—“Hamburg erases dreams.”
To dramatize just how disinterested they were in anything other than bourgeois sanitation, the stunt was called for the same time as the solidarity demonstration expressing support for arrestees and other targets of the police violence Hamburg has witnessed over the past week. Rhetoric abounded about “citizenship” (a framework that denies the value of everyone who lacks a certain bureaucratic status) and “cleaning up our town.” The middle class feel entitled to treat everything as their territory, provided that the authorities don’t mind.
Yet they did not set out to clean up all Hamburg. They certainly didn’t concern themselves with the parts of the city that the police blocked off in anticipation of the G20 summit, despite the residents of those zones being trapped indoors or forcibly excluded from their homes. They gathered only in the area around the Rota Flora, the squatted social center that has served as one of the mobilization points for the demonstrations against the G20. The message was clear: in the name of bourgeois tidiness, centers of dissent should be swept away like trash, and expressions of dissent should be erased.
When neighborhoods are cleaned like this, the original residents rarely get to stick around to reap the benefits. Such sanitation is a step in gentrification, forcing those who previously lived there to move to more precarious situations and destroying the character of the neighborhood. Talk about violence! This cleaning ceremony is a ritual to cleanse Schanze of the sin of revolt while hastening the investment and “revitalization” that will force out those who call it home. The Catholic Church carried out a similar ritual after the Paris Commune, building the Sacré-Cœur basilica on the very spot where the revolt began. Urban cleansing is always political.
In front of the Rota Flora, two courageous people held signs opposing the cleaning. Contra mundum, they debated a series of self-satisfied property owners who spent the past several days indoors while police beat, pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, and water-cannoned thousands of demonstrators, locals, and passers-by.
The partisans of tidiness would like to think of themselves as the mainstream of society, writing off protesters as some sort of negligible fringe. But yesterday’s demonstration against the G20 outnumbered them by tens of thousands, if not more. The way things are going, fewer and fewer people are left sitting on the fence in the supposed center of the political spectrum, struggling to pull a mask of normalcy over a rapidly escalating situation of social conflict.
To be clear, the world we want is not a mess of broken glass and torn up streets. But neither is it the world as it exists today, in which all dreams of another world are suppressed and concealed. Those with brooms and those with batons are two arms of the same beast. We don’t need to clean the façade of this society, the false face that hides all the ugly forms of oppression and exploitation on which it is founded: we need to demolish it.
Finally, when everything in Hamburg is calming down and people are leaving the city after a long peaceful demonstration, the police are carrying out an unprovoked fully militarized invasion of Schanzenviertel, violently attacking everyone on the street. The whole quarter is blocked by police. Their intention is clearly to carry out revenge attacks to restore the myth of their invincibility. They even raided a space in which medics were treating the injured on .Beim Grünen Jägerstrasse.
Despite this ugly situation, there have been some desperate attempts at resistance.
Meanwhile, thirty fascists have carried out an attack on Otto’s, an antifascist bar on the Hafenstrasse, without any response from police.
As of this writing, a huge number of police vehicles are arriving at the camp in Altona.
Over the coming days, it will be very important to provide solidarity and support to all the people arrested, injured, and terrorized in Hamburg, and to emphasize how much danger the police pose to the population at large.
You can look for more updates via Enough Is Enough, who have been doing excellent reporting.
After several days of clashes, Hamburg is celebrating its win over the occupation by police and the G20. People are dancing and singing at concerts, enjoying food, and taking over the streets of their city. ¡No pasaran!
As the front of the 1.5km long demo approaches its final destination, we are taking a quick look at the events of last night in Hamburg.
As we concluded our live reporting, smaller clashes were still happening all over the city.
Today, police finally released the number of arrests. They claim they arrested and/or detained 265 people in the last couple days of rioting.
Police says 213 cops were injured, but they still have not released the information about injured protesters. We know that many were in fact injured, and several critically.
Here are some images from last night.
A small group of about 30 masked participants of the big march was just attacked by the police next to Cosco shop on Ludwig-Erhardt-Strasse. Cops quickly ran into them, pushed the whole bloc out of the demonstration and against the trees, and pulled out individuals. The demonstration has stopped. People are shouting “The Whole World Hates the Police”. People refuse to leave anyone behind.
Demonstration is now moving on.
People on loudspeakers warned the police to move away from the demonstration.
Earlier, police made a second attempt to separate the anarchist bloc from the rest of the demonstration. This time, the Kurdish bloc in front of them prevented the attempt.
Police are walking in close contact with the front and sides of the demonstration. The first part of the demonstration already walked a good kilometer, while the back has not even moved yet. The demonstration is colorful, loud and cheerful, and there is no clear line anymore between more and less radical parts of it. There is more than 76,000 people in the demonstration. Anarchist symbols are visible everywhere.
Germany banned any image of YPG symbols in the public due to its connection with PKK, who is listed as a terrorist organization in Germany. People in the march are however waving small YPG/YPJ flags in solidarity with Kurdish struggle, expressing anger over the ban of this symbol.
The anti-border demonstration was briefly stopped at the corner of Willy-Brandt Strasse and Brandstwiete by police. They tried to separate the black bloc from the rest of the demonstration. They did not succeed. The march is bigger than anyone expected, and is slowly moving on its path.
In front of it, police formed their own bloc.
We are getting more and more reports about police raids on apartments and social centers around Hamburg.
After a week of unprecedented police brutality and people courageously fighting back, the police are obviously looking to avenge riots that can only match those 30 some years ago at the peak of Autonome movement in Germany.
About two hours ago they raided the social center at Brigittenstrasse near Schanze district. This neighborhood was liberated and defended with barricades for several hours last night, until police entered it with special forces and automatic weapons amid heavy resistance.
Self organized legal aid announced minutes ago, that police are going through video footage, and arresting people on the streets based on the large coverage they have been gathering in the past days.
After a long night in rebellious Hamburg, we can once again confirm that the police lost control again. The people of Hamburg stood up against the occupation of state forces from all over the European Union and are about to start a demonstration against all borders during which they refuse to be divided by police tactics of brutal force. Stay tuned for our updates!
Tonight, for the second night in a row, approximately 20,000 police armed with the best crowd control technology money can buy utterly lost control of downtown Hamburg. Last night was bad enough, with clashes and decentralized attacks continuing well past sunrise; tonight they were forced to withdraw completely from the Schanze neighborhood for several hours, as barricades burned in the intersections and thousands of people from all walks of life joyously celebrated a police-free zone. Now the mayor who invited the G20 to Hamburg is pleading for the end of the violence he started.
This shows that, even with the very latest technologies, no amount of police violence can control a population that refuses to be dominated. This is good news for partisans of freedom everywhere around the world.
As we compose these lines, the police are storming Schanze with the utmost of brute force, recklessly pointing machine guns at reporters and everyone else, seeking to avenge themselves on those who remain on the streets after most participants have gone home to rest. The special forces units of Hamburg and five other cities are deployed on the streets, as well as Austrian special forces. But no amount of violence and oppression can conceal the fact that they lost control—and more importantly, that they never deserved control in the first place.
Conspiracy theory nuts will allege that the G20 was intentionally placed in Hamburg to provoke the population in order to justify further crackdowns on civil liberties. This is half true: in putting the G20 immediately beside one of the most radical neighborhoods in Germany, the authorities were testing the population to see how much people will put up with. Hamburg is being treated as an experimental laboratory of repression, with police officers brought in from several other nations in the European Union to study repression.
But if we can make it impossible for the police to control us despite more than one out of every twelve officers in all of Germany being concentrated in a single city, then surely we can defend our freedom from the state as a whole. The point here is that we cannot be cowardly, clinging to the illusion that the state will permit us our freedoms if only we are submissive enough. No people has ever achieved or retained freedom that way.
Things have reached a point of no return: the future will be revolutionary liberation, or it will be a police state. The supposed middle ground, in which limited freedoms are watched over by a state restrained by the will of the people, has always been a myth, an illusion that is harder and harder to maintain.
Let’s look closer at the breakdown of police control. In 1987, the German police began to shift to their current model for crowd control, in order to correct for the ways that crowds had outmaneuvered and defeated them—especially on May Day of that year. The subsequent model of German policing, in which long lines of riot police are supplemented with highly mobile snatch squads that maintain close contact with the crowd, has more or less served to control urban unrest until now. (For a more thorough overview of the recent history of German police tactics, consult this helpful article.)
In 2017, exactly thirty years after the origins of this model, the crowds of Hamburg succeeded in once more outmaneuvering and defeating the police. This time, they did so by spreading the action over a vast area of the city, moving swiftly and focusing on decentralized actions. Whenever the police established a control line, people gathered on the other side of it—not only demonstrators, but also supportive spectators. Small, highly organized and mobile groups of demonstrators were able to identify exit routes and carry out swift attacks, while larger crowds stretched the police one direction, then another. The more territory the police had to control, the more they antagonized the population, and the more demonstrators they had to deal with as their lines became more and more thinly stretched. Finally, they lost control of the most unruly regions and were forced to retreat entirely.
In addition to tactical concerns, however, the most important blow to the police has been that, by going too far in seeking to control the population by brute force, they lost legitimacy in the public eye. Their absurd and unprovoked attack on yesterday’s Welcome to Hell demonstration turned the entire city against them. No wonder they have lost control.
They will surely regain it, probably at the cost of a great deal of suffering inflicted at random on those who remain on the streets. But we should be heartened by the fact that they were beaten, that they could not control the population—and we should be inspired by the tremendous courage that people have shown in Hamburg, standing up to such a powerful adversary and refusing to back down.
The Schanze district has been liberated for several hours, with protesters actively defending it at barricades. Within the area are many looted shops, barricades on fire, and people ready to fight. As we write, special police forces are preparing to enter the rebellious zone in huge numbers, armed with water cannons and heavy equipment. As the cops try to remove the barricades, the people of Schanze are fighting back.
Special forces are carrying automatic weapons as they stand on the rooftops across the districts of Schanze. Cops have aimed guns at the press, as well. Weapons with live ammunition are confirmed.
Special forces are in front of Rote Flora. Inside are people who have been injured. In total, 20 people have been provided with medical care, three were taken away in ambulances to the hospital, and there are still many injured people on the scene.
As the night descends on Hamburg, we can see the full moon through the smoke. People are playing volleyball in the street, celebrating their victory over the forces of the G20 and attempted police occupations of their streets. There are even bigger reasons to celebrate as we anticipate a long and rebellious night ahead.
Despite numerous attempts by the police, the state, and mainstream media to divide protesters by framing them as either “violent” or “non-violent,” Hamburg’s message remains clear: solidarity without compromise. When police attack demonstrations with brutal force, without provocation, the people turn against them. The police, working hand in hand with the media, attempted to spread fear by describing hordes of wild, autonomous radicals streaming into Hamburg from across the world, bringing pandemonium. Yet at the end of the day, Hamburg’s own people defended it from police aggression, refusing to give in or give up any of their comrades in black fighting fiercely alongside them for their streets.
As we see how intense and widespread the clashes have been in Hamburg over the last 48 hours, as we witness people’s determination to regather every time the police push them back, and particularly the joy with which they resist when told to stay away, it is clear that this struggle in Hamburg is more than just a struggle against the G20.
For years, authorities have systematically tried to push back against Hamburg’s local autonomous networks—both by attacking the political gathering spaces and by displacing people from their neighborhoods with rising costs of living. The attacks on cars, shops, banks, and police over the last two days are not just a blow against the G20, but against the symbols of gentrification and dehumanization that are real, daily battles for the people of Hamburg.
This is why the city has resisted the narrative of the police and the state, and opened their arms in support of joyous rebellion.
St. Pauli few minutes ago.
Summit was massively disrupted. Hamburg won.
The Story of Rebellion.
The police just came under heavy attack by protesters on Neuer Pferdemarkt. In front of burning barricades, a large group of protesters attacked the police and then dispersed. The cops used water cannons yet again, but they are stretched thin and were unable to push back successfully. Another clash is reported north of Neuer Pferdemarkt.
In the meantime, people have defended Schanze against police advances several times over. Critical Mass just arrived on bicycles to celebrate at the barricades of the rebellious city of Hamburg.
With some parts of the city still looking like a war zone, there is an incredibly joyful atmosphere in Hamburg. People of all ages are celebrating on the streets, with fires everywhere, and without police checkpoints for blocks at a time. Anti-G20 tags are everywhere, and people are skateboarding in police-free streets. Hamburg is defended!
After clashes in front of Rote Flora, people are fighting police fiercely in Schanzenviertel. One cop fired a warning shot.
Meanwhile, demonstrators throw Molotov cocktails at police in Sternschanze. After a solid hour of heavy clashes, police have begun to arrest demonstrators.
Despite police cancelling the protest announced for 8pm today, people are still gathering in substantial numbers at Reeperbahn.
About 40 minutes ago, police shot tear gas in Arrivati park.
Meanwhile, G20 leaders listened calmly to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Elbphilharmonie.
Video footage from one of the earlier clashes.
Police just attacked protesters in front of St. Pauli Stadium with water cannons, as protesters were trying to make their way onto the main street that people barricaded about an hour ago. Huge amounts of police are now chasing down the crowd, as they try to reunite with the march, announced for 8 pm.
St. Pauli stadium is hosting an autonomous media centre, antifa kitchen, resting area for protesters, and offering sleeping places.
At 7:40 pm, clashes started in front of Rote Flora.
Police, despite reinforcements from all over the country and EU, are still struggling to hold their ground in the streets of rebellious Hamburg.
There are so many clashes and blockades around the city, it is becoming increasingly hard to keep track of all of them. Police are running around, driving their vehicles up and down, setting up blockades, trying to disperse crowds who are defending themselves at several points in the city, regrouping and quickly regathering in one part of district to the next.
Police just attacked a small blockade on Ludwig-Erhard-Strasse several times before succeeding.
Police are tweeting that they have not yet declared a state of emergency, as they are fighting both in the streets and on the water, where they have been trying for hours to chase off around twelve Greenpeace boats. They caught several swimmers who entered the Red zone in the harbor.
People are still blockading Elbphilharmonie in the harbor.
Earlier in the morning people successfully blockaded the harbor, slowed down G20 meeting delegations, rerouted Donald Trump, and prevented US first lady Melania Trump from leaving her hotel.
This is what defense of the St. Pauli district looked like:
With more and more clashes all over the city, police are losing ground for the second day in a row.
At Landungsbrücken Station people broke through the locked station, as police were attacking them with water cannons in the street. Fierce fighting lasted for more than half an hour between protesters and police, before the crowds dispersed. Eleven people are reported to be injured.
In the smaller streets around Hafenstrasse, there are groups of 300 people on almost every intersection. They refuse to give in. Police brought three water cannons and other vehicles to Hafenstrasse, pushing people against the buildings.
But streets are not the only space in which police are waging war against the people of Hamburg. They are trying to spread fear in the detained, the injured, the press, and the general public.
During the demonstrations, several journalists were attacked by police despite being clearly marked. At least five journalists had their official accreditation stripped without reasoning.
They attacked people from self organized legal aid and protest monitoring groups, despite wearing brightly marked vests. Legal aid workers still have only limited access to the detained, and the police refuse to release the number of arrested individuals. The police are refusing to give the arrestees access to phone calls to self organized legal aid, and are spreading false information to the legal aid organizations. Detainees are refusing to speak to the police, and consequently with that fake excuse the police are actively preventing them from having legal council.
Police are also refusing to release the number of those who were severely injured, and the nature of those injuries, in the last 24 hours of struggles in Hamburg.
They are much more talkative on their official Twitter account though, spreading threatening messages to the population, all intended to prevent people from joining the large demonstrations around the city. There have been several rumors about military intervention and dead police officers, all proven false.
Nothing about injured protesters, vast displays of an injured cop.
Warning people to leave their cars out of the city to protect them from vandals, though they keep bringing theirs in.
And when police plead with the people to stop supporting the black bloc, you know things are serious.
In Millerntorplatz, several thousand people gathered for the Color the Red Zone demonstration, and were confronted by several lines of police. Crowds refused to be intimidated and pushed against police lines. Speeches and samba bands were accompanied by anticapitalist chants and colorful smoke from flares. The demonstration feels powerful.
The BlocG20 and ATTAC demonstration is marching toward the Elbphilharmonie—an expensive concert hall built with public funds earlier this year. The plan is to blockade the hall. Fireworks are exploding outside and the police are firing water canons at Landungsbrücken. They are currently using two out of four water cannons in the area. Around 5pm, police started to push people with all four water cannons in the direction of Hafenstrasse. Several clashes with police are reported in the area of St. Pauli. Side note: in the city, we have noticed old water cannons police hardly ever use anymore.
Meanwhile, Hamburg police reported that yet another police car on patrol was attacked by protesters. Around 2 pm, police were attacked with Molotov cocktails in Holstenstrasse.
Earlier this morning, several police cars were burned. All over Hamburg, police vehicles were attacked with paint and hammers. A group of protesters attacked a police station.
The situation in the streets was uncontrollable as stores, banks and official buildings were smashed and cars burned everywhere.
It is no surprise that police have become a target of the protests after their attacks on camps and demonstrations earlier this week created panic and stampedes. In one such instance, 500 cops were sent to remove 11 sleeping tents. In the days leading to G20 they were beating and injuring hundreds all over the city. It is still not clear how many people were injured by police yesterday, but ambulances were deployed 89 times, mostly for head injuries, broken bones, and abrasions.
At the edge of the Reeperbahn, a student strike has produced a street occupation extending more than a full city block. The atmosphere is relaxed, with music, speeches, and a multi-generational crowd. But large groups of riot police march around in confusion, threatening people who mostly ignore them.
Students announced their strike and organized against the meeting of the G20, because they see the meeting as a symbol of an unjust education system that is teaching them to compete rather than cooperate.
Their demonstration is set to merge with the new wave of blockades shortly after 3:00 pm. Thousands of people are already gathering at Millerntorplatz for the Color the Red Zone March. Cops are just moving through the crowd now in a small group, experiencing plenty of hostility.
Meanwhile, after hours of rumors that the German army is entering Hamburg, and even pictures of military vehicles in the city circulating around, trying to put more fear into the hearts of protesters, Hamburg officials admitted the documented transfer of a military convoy is not related to G20 protests and the situation in the city. According to Hamburg police they were merely transporting material for the police. This is just one more maneuver from authorities showing they are not scared of using any tactic to maintain the illusion that they are in control, when they are clearly losing their ground against angry inhabitants of Hamburg who refuse to be threatened in their hometown. Police turned entire city against them.
In less than an hour, a new attempt to block the centre of Hamburg, where G20 delegations are meeting, will happen, with one of the meeting points being in front of St. Pauli Football stadium, traditionally known for their left-wing ultras fans. The stadium continues to be a sleeping place and media centre for protesters against G20, and with that showing their alliance to anticapitalist protesters.
Meanwhile, smaller clashes, blockades and demonstrations continue to erupt all over the city. The police are once again losing control over some streets. They called for reinforcements two hours ago, and cops from all over Germany are heading to Hamburg (let’s not forget every 12th German police officer is already stationed here).
At a press conference at the St. Pauli stadium, a panel consisting of organizers from the various demonstrations denounced the unprovoked attacks of the police and rejected corporate journalists’ attempts to divide them, asserting that all protesters and opponents of the G20 will present a united front throughout the weekend, and that the police had better not attack the massive demonstration scheduled for tomorrow.
After a day of street confrontations with the police including barricading and arson, this expression of unity is inspiring.
The police continue to circulate with fake news, spreading rumors like the one that the military will be called into Hamburg, as the situation continues to escalate. It is clear their only attempt is to make sure as little protesters as possible appear on the streets of Hamburg in the next two days, since they clearly lost control over them in the last 24 hours.
Welcome to the second day of our live coverage of resistance to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. After days of reckless unilateral escalation in which the police attacked protesters and residents of this rebellious city, last night Hamburg fiercely resisted the occupation of the police and the world leaders with militant demonstrations and spontaneous action. Great masses of people came out to their neighborhoods to show that Hamburg cannot be intimidated. This morning began with the burning of several cars, an attack on a police station, a blockade of the port, and people pushing in close to the complex hosting the G20.
We continue to report live from the streets of Hamburg, so stay tuned.
While the city of Hamburg is slowly quieting down, there are still many streets on which demonstrators continue to keep the police at bay, pelting them with projectiles and building barricades. It is fair to say that the police will be busy all night. As we’re wrapping up our live coverage of the first day of actions against the G20 in Hamburg, it’s safe to say that the police lost tonight.
The residents of Hamburg woke up this morning to the news that a large number of Porsches had been burned in the outskirts last night, giving an indication of the ungovernable energy with which Hamburg would resist this intrusion.
Despite the police controlling busses and trains full of activists at the border, they simply could not stop the crowds that gathered in the city center for the Welcome to Hell demonstration. The crowds they had to fear were not a few radical activists listed in the files of the secret police, but the population of Hamburg itself, which came together in opposition to the militarized policing that the G20 forced on the city.
The German police had brought together approximately 20,000 officers, including troops from other EU countries, with the intention of utterly quashing resistance. They brutally raided the camp that activists set up to accommodate protesters, then attacked people who gathered to enjoy themselves in the streets on July 4 and 5. They did everything they could to spread fear, in hopes of intimidating people out of showing up to the demonstrations to express their feelings about capitalism and the state.
It didn’t work. The Welcome to Hell demonstration attracted multigenerational crowds prepared to participate in blocs, black and otherwise. Thousands of people came together with joy, courage, and determination. In response, the police attacked a permitted demonstration without any justification—creating panic, severely injuring many people, and making more than 50 arrests in the first wave of repressive violence.
Yet this only served to foment more outrage against the authorities, which spread all around the city in the form of burning cars, barricades, and multiple simultaneous clashes and demonstrations of thousands. The strategy of terrorizing and kettling people with tremendous numbers of officers using brand-new militarized police equipment and brutal force simply failed. There were too many people on the streets and the police lost control. They report that 76 officers were injured in Hamburg tonight.
There was a lot at stake today. The German state and the world leaders wanted to show that they are in control, that their reign is popular—or, failing that, that they can successfully dominate the population. They wanted the world to see that they can freely harass, intimidate, and oppress people without consequences. They wanted to flaunt their power by bringing the G20 to a center of resistance. Instead, they demonstrated their weakness.
Tonight, with the help of courageous people from around the world, Hamburg stood up and said Enough. We are humbled and inspired. We will continue tomorrow.
Holstenstrasse remains an epicenter of resistance. Protestors have constructed barricades up and down the street. Each time the police try to drive by, they’re greeted with a shower of glass bottles. The cops don’t dare to stop.
In the meantime, protestors clash with police in front of Rote Flora, one of the oldest autonomous spaces in Hamburg, as well as at another demonstration stopped at Max-Brauer-Alee.
Protestors struggle to defend police-free zones as the cops continue to attack. Massive numbers of police are in the intersection by the Rote Flora. There is a steady sound of breaking glass. The cops are at war with the whole population of Hamburg now.
After a fierce fight, cops in front of Rote Flora are being pushed into retreat.
After forcing water cannons off Holstenstrasse, people are chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!”
As night descends on the city of Hamburg, the smell of teargas is in the air and the people are getting ready to party. Last night, over 20,000 people gathered on the streets to rave against the G20. Despite the fact that every 12th German cop is running around tonight, people here are running faster. The sound of music is blasting in the streets of this rebellious German city and in the hearts of those who walk them, overpowering the beat of heavy boots and the sirens of police occupation.
Occasions like this demand a proper soundtrack. Here are our picks for tonight. After all, it ain’t our revolution if we can’t dance to it.
Test Their Logik - Crash the Meeting. Self explanatory.
Deichkind - Remmidemmi. In case you have extra furniture lying around and want to invite neighbors to a house party.
Irie Révoltés - Jetzt ist Schluss // Ruhe vor dem Sturm. As their meeting comes to an end, our party is getting started.
Welcome to Hell - Hamburg 2017. Police might have confiscated that St. Pauli water cannon, but they haven’t confiscate people’s courage.
In typical Hamburg fashion, riots have erupted all over the city. On Pferdemarkt, where police used water cannons and tear gas two nights ago, protestors set up barricades, but police have managed to temporarily clear the streets. On Reeperbahn, a massive and spontaneous rave has been attacked by police. Several thousand people pushed through from Nobistor to Holstenstrasse and are now on Max-Brauer-Allee.
Here is a video account from the Reeperbahn.
Whenever clashes take place like the ones unfolding during the G20 summit in Hamburg, people who are accustomed to accepting state violence as a routine fact of life express dismay at seeing people defend themselves. That’s right—police armed with lethal weapons exert systematic brute force against unarmed civilians and the civilians are blamed for trying to stop them. What’s going on here?
The discourse of violence is not neutral. The state and the corporate media put tremendous effort into controlling how violence is defined in the collective imagination. In their discourse, shooting rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and tear gas canisters at unarmed civilians is not violence, but throwing tear gas canisters back to lines of police equipped with gas masks is. Looking at this example, we can see that what is really at issue is not the use of coercive force. Rather, the term “violence” is used to describe anyone who challenges the monopoly on coercive force that representatives of the state usually enjoy.
When those who hold power describe people as violent, the goal is almost always to legitimize the use of violent force against them. We can clearly see this in the press campaigns that police have carried out in advance of the G20, making an effort to define certain protesters in advance as the “violent” ones. Whoever accuses others of being violent is likely about to inflict violence upon them.
When politicians and activists pressure us to promise that we will not be “violent,” they are threatening to take away the legitimacy that can discourage the state from carrying out violence against us. In this regard, “nonviolent” NGOs and “peace” activists are complicit in the violence that the state is able to inflict on those who it delegitimizes as violent protesters.
If we always allow those in positions of authority to define what is and is not acceptable behavior, we will never be able to protest in a way that can exert any leverage on them or, consequently, on the attention of the general public. Rather than accepting the discourse and asking whether a certain kind of behavior is violent, we should ask a different question: how does it distribute power? What kind of power relations does it create? What power relations does it interrupt? Not just anarchists but all lovers of freedom, regardless of political affiliation, should understand that this is the more important question.
This is why practically everyone acknowledges that it is acceptable to intervene with coercive force to save the lives of people threatened by a sniper like Anders Breivik: it is not a question of what is legal or illegal, or whether or not to be violent, but of how to protect the freedom and well-being of those who will otherwise be killed. As increasing state repression, economic chaos, and catastrophic climate change threaten the freedom and well-being of more and more people, we can understand those deemed “violent” by the defenders of the G20 to be intervening in hopes of protecting all of us from a greater threat.
Here is an array of resources explaining why we believe people have the right to stand up for themselves, even in ways that the state delegitimizes as violent. Some of the texts also explore why some demonstrators choose to engage in targeted property destruction as a means of exerting pressure on those who hold power.
The Welcome to Hell demonstration presented a surprisingly festive and cheerful atmosphere, with people of all ages, colors and styles of dress, and body types singing and dancing together in front of the stage or picnicking in the shade. Speakers from Mexico, Russia, the United States, and other G20 nations addressed the crowd between musical performances. The authorities had worked hard to spread fear about the “violent anarchists” coming to Hamburg, but this effort clearly failed to drive a wedge between the average residents of Hamburg and the demonstrators.
When the program concluded, several sound trucks playing a variety of revolutionary music moved through the crowd to the front of the march, followed by one affinity group after another, participants pulling on black rain jackets and gloves over their colorful summer clothing. Line after line after line formed; different groups have been signing up to form the front of this demonstration for months, to ensure that it would be well-organized.
The demonstration moved slowly down the Hafenstrasse, as supportive spectators slowly fanned out along the sides. The police had already moved a tremendous number of officers ahead, parking several water cannons and armored cars there; although they permitted the entire march route that the organizers of the demonstration had requested, they clearly had no intention whatsoever to permit the march to go forward. This continues a theme for the Hamburg police: just as they had refused to permit camping that was authorized by the highest court in the land, now they refused to allow a march that they themselves had issued the permits for.
The black bloc advanced to this wall of police and paused. The standoff continued minute after minute, the cops standing in the hot sun in their heavy uniforms, the black bloc in the shade, with lively music blaring from the sound trucks. Spectators gathered on the pedestrian bridge over the Hafenstrasse, on the terraces on either side of the street looking down on it, and on rooftops behind them. Some of them were journalists with heavy cameras; some had clearly come to participate in the day’s protests; but many were simply Hamburg locals, sympathetic to the demonstrators and curious to see what would unfold. As the minutes wore on, the crowding increased, until people were lined several lines thick along every vantage point from which to view the activity. Small groups of heavily armored riot police appeared behind them, preparing to respond as soon as clashes broke out.
Yet no matter how many groups of police deployed in the area, there were always more spectators and demonstrators behind them. Everyone had been afraid that the Welcome to Hell demonstration would be completely kettled, that the participants had no chance of getting out of the square where it was to begin. On one side was the river, on the other side, thick lines of riot police with every kind of weapon at their disposal. Indeed, the police had surrounded the march, but they themselves were now surrounded by sympathetic bystanders.
Finally, the police attacked the demonstration, shooting tear gas canisters directly into the middle of the march without provocation. People in the march responded by keeping the riot police at a distance under a hail of projectiles. Spectators began to boo and jeer at the cowardly action of the police. Huge clouds of tear gas were rising from the Hafenstrasse, causing spectators to cough and choke all along the terraces. The continuous explosion of tear gas grenades lent a grim atmosphere to the scene.
The crowds outside the main lines of police became more and more restless. Some participants in the main black bloc managed to get out of the trap and move into the side streets where the spectators had massed. People were moving more and more quickly now, affinity groups fanning out to see what routes were controlled by police. The police had bargained that they would be able to surround and control the crowd, but it was spilling out of their zone of control.
A full block away, on the Reeperbahn, the crowds were getting thicker and thicker. Suddenly, a black bloc march of hundreds appeared, which had somehow managed to retain or rescue a full-power sound system blasting techno music! The street filled with demonstrators, who set out at a swift pace moving away from the zone of police control.
Another full city block away, barricades were already burning, as additional smaller marches and affinity groups fanned out into the neighborhood, spreading chaos and freedom to the whole city. The police had lost control of Hamburg.
Meanwhile, amazingly, despite the charges of the riot police and the shower of tear gas greenades, the Welcome to Hell march eventually managed to regroup and continue forward on the original route, with a 1000-person black bloc slowly pushing the police back before them.
It is an exciting day in Hamburg.
Thousands of people are regathering (and being stopped by police) in a spontaneous demonstration in the bay of Hamburg district of St. Pauli after police used brutal force on the original demonstration. Police violence is sparking further revolt. We are looking at a long night ahead. In about 20 minutes, a solidarity demonstration against police violence in Berlin will start.
Here is a quick overview of the events so far.
Following the attack on the demonstration at Hafenstrasse, the black bloc has regrouped and is pushing back the cops, who are calling backup for water cannons and once again attempting to disperse the crowd. The demonstration of several thousand people is now attempting to continue along the original march route. There is a spontaneous demonstration at Nobistor against police violence of about 1500 people. Smaller clashes are taking place all around the city, while several cars are burning in the St. Pauli district. Reports are coming in about severely injured demonstrators.
When the police attacked the Welcome to Hell demonstration with batons, water cannons, and brutal force, they spread panic among many participants. Now they are attacking people on smaller streets, including the Fischmarkt, where the demo started. Meanwhile, a new demonstration has formed on the Reeperbahn with a new sound system. People refuse to give up the streets of Hamburg.
Police have attacked the Welcome to Hell demonstration on the St. Pauli Haffenstrasse. Protesters are defending themselves by throwing pyrotechnics and projectiles at them. The police are using water cannons and tear gas, causing some members of the crowd to stampede while trapped in a narrow street. Several people are lying on the ground unconscious.
Police in full riot gear blocked the demonstration with water canons before it even started. They are calling for press and people to leave the space and for people to unmask. New water cannons, armored vehicles, and other police cars arriving on the scene. They are obviously escalating the situation before the demonstration even starts.
Police still refuse to let demonstration of more than 12,000 people pass, blocking it from both sides with four water cannons and enormous amount of riot cops. At its head is a huge black bloc. People are loud: this is our city!
Germany has deployed over 20,000 police officers from all over the country (and other EU states) to the city of Hamburg. This city with a long history of militant protest and a massive autonomous and anarchist scene has been chosen to serve as a testing ground for new forms of urban warfare. Germany declared a state of emergency against its own population, nervously anticipating a conflict of apocalyptic scale—the kind of conflict that would justify the further strengthening of police state, including stricter anti-terrorist laws and further repression of free communication and autonomous spaces as potential centers of subversive activity.
Walking around Hamburg over the past few days, the only nervous element in the city is the occupying police force. Despite the police deploying every twelfth officer in the country to Hamburg, brutally suppressing campers who sought to sleep in parks, using water cannons to attack people partying on the corner in their neighborhood, and assaulting dancers in Wednesday night’s street party, the residents of Hamburg refuse to give up the streets of their city.
As a consequence of their fear, the police have flooded the media with scaremongering reports about how the autonomous scene from other cities and countries is mobilizing around the G20 summit, in hopes of spreading fear about international militants. They have publicized dubious stories about homemade weapons found in cities around Hamburg and explained that they will be forced to respond with violence when 8000 violent protesters supposedly attack them tonight.
When we hear police projecting violence on protesters ahead of a demonstration, we can be sure that this means that the police are planning to be violent. Their advance coverage is aimed at creating a situation in which people will believe them to be justified in attacking crowds with brutal force, both in the demonstration and throughout the city, where the only possible response of the locals will be self-defense.
However, the police have not anticipated that with nearly 8% of German’s officers concentrated in Hamburg, other cities are lacking their most highly trained personnel. That opens up opportunities for people in those cities to express solidarity with their comrades on the streets of Hamburg and also to advance their local struggles.
For instance, yesterday, in the city of Wuppertal, activists prevented the deportation of 38 refugees. The deportation bus was forced to leave empty after the police failed to stop a spontaneous demonstration.
As the numbers at the Welcome to Hell demonstration in downtown Hamburg rise, it is important to remember what is at stake. On one hand, it is important to come to the St. Pauli Fischmarkt and show that we are strong, refusing to give in to the police tactic of intimidation—not just for the sake of the #noG20 efforts, but above all because the whole world is watching to see how strong our response will be to the militarized policing of the world leaders. Decentralized actions will only work if the main action concentrates enough force to open space for them.
However, while people come together at the Welcome to Hell demonstration, this does indeed open space for people to take action elsewhere in Hamburg, Germany, and the world. The more unpredictable we are, the more space we operate in at once, the harder it is to control us. It is easier to contain 30,000 people at a protest that has been announced in advance than it is to keep up with demonstrations and actions spread all around the city and country.
There are several solidarity actions announced all over Germany and the world. You could go out and carry out a spontaneous solidarity action right now, connecting the global struggle against the G20 to your local context. Comrades, we are counting on you.
As the start of the Welcome to Hell demonstration nears, the atmosphere in St. Pauli Fischmarkt is festive with more than 7000 people of all generations dancing and singing together. Before the crowd can move, a huge number of riot police move into their path to stop them.
In the meantime, antifa arrived to Hamburg shores in style.
Despite the long corridors of police in full riot gear surrounding St. Pauli Fischmarkt, with water cannons and what looks like every police car in Germany, people are in a festive mood. The presence of eight percent of the whole German police force doesn’t seem to frighten the several thousand people, including children, who are gathering to start the colorful “Welcome to Hell” demonstration that will make its way around the district around 7pm.
Meanwhile, police are continuously trying to prevent international protesters from entering Germany. Despite the European Union’s policy of Schengen borders (that is, there are no border between EU countries if you have the privilege of Western passport), militarized borders have been established all around Germany.
In Bavaria, police are openly carrying machine guns while checking the passports of passengers arriving from Austria. Last night in Switzerland, police detained a train of about 160 protesters in Basel for several hours. They were finally let through late in the night. A bus from Netherlands was also detained at the border. Police took the passports and offered no information to the passengers for over two hours. Just now, they prohibited the entire bus from traveling onwards. Buses heading to Hamburg from Berlin were stopped on the highway and people’s bags were searched. The police are also checking and collecting information from people traveling inside Hamburg on public transport.
Despite this level of police harassment, they don’t seem to be really stopping anyone from coming out to express a proper welcome to the G20 leaders.
Maybe during this week’s coverage of resistance to the G20 summit in Hamburg, you’ve caught sight of some strange graffiti in the background of the protests and clashes. Whether you’re a visitor to Hamburg or simply someone who spends a lot of time scrutinizing photographs of public order situations in the city, no one can help noticing the cheerful smiley faces spray-painted on practically every vertical surface. These are the work of Oz, Hamburg’s most tireless graffiti artist.
Oz moved to Hamburg in 1992 and began spraying smiley faces on its grey walls as a way of combatting the lifelessness of the city. He didn’t come out of the graffiti scene, but was driven by his own idiosyncratic motives, ultimately coming to understand himself as “a fighter against the norms of German cleanliness.”
According to the Hamburg police, by 2002, Oz had decorated the city of Hamburg with well over 120,000 smiley faces and other tags. Although he spent nearly a decade in prison altogether as a consequence of pursuing his life’s mission, he must have succeeded in doubling that number by the end of his career.
On September 25. 2014, at 64 years of age, Oz was killed by a train while spray painting. The police found a fresh graffito by the tracks alongside a spray can and a backpack. Afterwards, other graffiti artists made murals in his memory all over Hamburg. You can see a selection of them here.
Our efforts to resist the G20 are just the latest in a long line of individual and collective struggles against the greyness of this world.
The G20 summit in Hamburg is only the most recent in a long line of global summits that anarchists have organized against, perhaps most famously including the 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. Here is a selection of our coverage of previous mobilizations:
1999 G8 in Birmingham, England
2003 G8 in Évian, France
2005 G8 in Scotland, UK
2007 G8 in Heiligendamm, Germany
2009 G20 in Pittsburgh, USA
2010 G20 in Toronto, Canada
Just now, in the centre of the St. Pauli district, traditional stronghold of autonomous resistance, thousands of people are gathering in Fischmarkt park for the anticapitalist demonstration “Welcome to Hell”. To warm people up, there is a group of people from all around the world speaking about their local struggles and why opposing the G20 meeting in Hamburg matters. Later on, various musicians will take over the stage.
At around 6.30 the demonstration will move on with loudspeakers and trucks, trying to make its way through the streets of St. Pauli. There will be several blocs in the demonstration, black and otherwise. “We want the demo to be a militant joint prelude to the days of resistance,” said the call for action.
Despite the fact that the route was approved by the city officials, most doubt that the police will allow it to move so close to the building, in which the G20 meeting is taking place. Hence, it is likely that if the demonstration is broken, plan B, reclaiming St. Pauli district will take place.
There are teams of action medics and legal observers all over the city, along with special safe spaces to rest.
The G20 summit in Hamburg is provocation on the part of the authorities. Placing their disruptive and widely loathed summit in the epicenter of one of Germany’s most radical cities can only be understood as a deliberate attempt to foment conflict and hasten the gentrification of an area that has caused them problems for a long time. It should not be surprising if Hamburg responds with anger. The G20 summit has brought tens of thousands of police and bureaucrats to the city to interfere with the day-to-day lives of those who live there, shutting off whole neighborhoods and precipitating confrontations. If the people of Hamburg and their allies from around the world do not resist the G20, it would embolden the G20 governments to continue using it as a weapon against rebellious places and populations.
Hamburg has a long legacy as a hotbed of radical politics and social movements: first as a center of the German labor movement and later as a site of fierce countercultural activity. In the 1980s, a series of battles took place between the police and supporters of squats along the riverfront Hafenstrasse. Although thousands of police were brought to bear against the squatters, the government was ultimately defeated and the autonomous housing complexes persist to this day. These were some of the clashes in which black bloc tactics first gained notoriety.
Over the past few years, Hamburg has been targeted to host three different mega-events: the 23rd Ministerial of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the 2024 Olympics, and the 2017 G20. As we have thoroughly documented in our coverage of Brazilian social movements, mega-events offer the state an opportunity to militarize the police, destroy unruly neighborhoods, and expand the infrastructure of state control and repression.
The OSCE serves as a sort of think tank via which European governments coordinate security measures, implement austerity policies, and otherwise intervene in the lives of ordinary people. The role of the Olympics in disrupting cities is widely recognized, as is that of the G20.
In 2015, after a protracted social struggle, Hamburg was forced to turn down its bid for the Olympics. Shortly before the OSCE ministerial in December 2016, demonstrators blocked the entrance of the venue for the OSCE and G20 summits with burning tires and smashed out the glass façade to emphasize their opposition to the bureaucrats’ plans for Hamburg and the world. Raucous street protests coincided with the ministerial. Now tens of thousands of people are coming together to resist the G20 summit in a full week of joyous and confrontational action.
The more that the authorities have to pay for their attempts to encroach on our freedoms, the more freedom we will retain. Resistance is possible: it is the wellspring of life itself.
Fighting in Brazil 2013-2015: Including an overview of how mega-events are used to expand the infrastructure of state repression
Some organizations are protesting at the G20 summit in Hamburg to express opposition to specific G20 policies: the ongoing colonial exploitation of Africa, government pandering to profiteering financial institutions, rampant environmental destruction hastening climate change. As anarchists, we are concerned about all of these problems, but we believe it is naïve to expect that the class of people that is chiefly responsible for them in the first place will fix them for us. Even if the G20 politicians could fix all these issues by fiat and carrying signs could compel them to do so, it would just reinforce the logic of the protection racket in which they inflict crises on us, then hold us hostage and extort us in return for solving them.
It is a distraction to focus only on the bad politics of specific G20 rulers like Donald Trump, egregious as they are. For anyone who truly believes in freedom and equality, the problem is the structure itself, not which people occupy it.
Any system that empowers bureaucrats and heads of state to decide the fate of billions is fundamentally exclusive and coercive. We oppose the G20 summits because we believe that only horizontal grassroots initiatives can solve the problems facing humanity. Financial crisis, climate chaos, ethnic violence, and state repression are the inevitable consequences of markets and governments that concentrate power in the hands of the most ruthless few. When everyone is forced to compete for resources and power rather than being free to develop ways of life based on self-determination, voluntary association, and peaceful coexistence, no one wins, not even the 20 most powerful people on earth.
This is why anarchists take a position against the G20 governments themselves, rather than this or that policy. The free meals, housing, medical treatment, and street parties organized by participants in the resistance to the G20 offer a glimpse of a world in which all the necessities of life are shared—and are sweeter for being so. Likewise, our resistance to the summit is a model for the kind of organizing it will take to throw off the yoke of state repression and open up spaces of freedom in which we can solve our problems together.
Taking action against the G20 and against globalized capitalism secures a space for inclusive grassroots initiatives in the popular imagination as the alternative to world domination by a financial and political elite. If we fail to establish ourselves in the popular imagination, fascists and other nationalists will seize the opportunity to present themselves as opponents of the status quo, accruing support from rebels who have not yet developed an analysis of the institutions of power. We are already seeing a political polarization as people give up on traditional party politics. If we do not offer an alternative that breaks with the state and capitalism, we cede the field to racists and other partisans of state violence.
In place of the hierarchical power of the G20 leaders and their lackeys, we are creating worldwide horizontal networks based on autonomy, solidarity, and mutual aid. We hope to use these to defend ourselves against all would-be rulers as we work to create the foundations for another way of living. Fighting against the G20 and the police who are attempting to impose their summit on Hamburg is just one small part of a much larger project that includes the creation of common resources for the benefit of all. We are here as part of a joyous exploration of what it means to be human outside the imperatives of cutthroat capitalism.
The first urban clashes ahead of the G20 summit broke out in downtown Hamburg on Tuesday, July 4. Organizers had attempted to establish a campsite for out-of-town demonstrators in Enterwerder Park, but despite receiving permission from the highest court in the land, police blocked access to the park, then carried out a brutal raid, with the police president declaring “On the streets of Hamburg, we are the sole authority.” In response, demonstrators fanned out into Hamburg, occupying several more parks and other venues. After police raided one of these additional camps, a spontaneous march took the streets, ultimately precipitating confrontations between large crowds that blocked some of Hamburg’s main thoroughfares while armored water cannons and troops of riot police attacked them.
Walking through downtown Hamburg as the clashes died down, one could see “NO G20” graffiti everywhere. Stores that one would otherwise not suspect of anti-capitalist sentiments prominently displayed signs proclaiming “NO G20: Spare Our Shop!” In one small park in the midst of a gentrifying bar district, demonstrators gathered around a fire in the middle of the city, surrounded by tents and banners expressing opposition to the G20 and to capitalism in general. Despite the riot vans parked by the dozen at every intersection, despite the companies of riot police marching huffily back and forth, no amount of coercive violence could legitimize the G20 or the kind of policing required to force capitalism on an increasingly restless population. Something has to give.
Welcome to our continuous coverage of the mobilization against the 2017 G20 summit in Germany! We’re updating nonstop throughout Thursday evening and Friday, providing firsthand reports and analysis of the resistance in Hamburg. Please send us field reports, photos, and footage at G20@crimethinc.com.