G20 Summit – Protests in Hamburg

Hanna Moore

The streets of Hamburg erupted with protests in response to the G20 Summit held during the week in which 20 world leaders faced-off on current issues facing world policy.

The annual summit, which consists of a series of meetings between the Group of Twenty (G20) world leaders, often results in protests from advocacy groups calling for attention to a variety of social and economic issues.

Given the largely peaceful nature of many demonstrations prior and during the course of the Summit, the smaller number of anti-capitalist protests turning violent is enough to cause concern for many members of the Hamburg community. The large amount of press coverage of attacks on police and violent outbursts in the form of looting and torching objects is concerning in the attention it is bringing upon the German city.

The vast majority of protesters came to Hamburg to peacefully demonstrate and bring awareness to issues such as climate change, poverty, unemployment rates and free trade.

Many protesters believe that the attention of the Summit should be focused less on ‘traditional’ economic issues and more on issues affecting those in poverty. There is also a call for more transparency within the Summit as many of the meetings are closed to the public, instilling a sense of distrust of the intentions of these world leaders.

It appears as though this has been drowned out in the violent chaos and has many protesters worried that this will have a bad influence on Hamburg’s image abroad.

This left many questioning whether Hamburg was an appropriate choice of venue for the G20 Summit. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, sought to host the Summit in the central hub of Hamburg, which left some vulnerability in its obvious centrality as a populated area. However, Ms. Merkel noted that many protests were peaceful and legitimate in their concerns and that “putting pressure” on world leaders is necessary for results.

Merkel was still critical of those who became violent, however, stating in her opening remarks on the final day of the Summit that, “I wholeheartedly condemn the unfettered violence and uninhibited brutality against police during the days of the G20 Summit.”.

More than 200 police officers have been injured and over 200 people have been arrested or taken into custody over the course of these protests.

It isn’t uncommon for mass demonstrations to take place during such world events, and almost every G20 meeting attracts protests, peaceful and non-peaceful. However, it appears that Hamburg’s accessible location and known anti-capitalist sentiment may have contributed to the controversial nature of this year’s Summit demonstrations.

Merkel has told journalists that the people of Hamburg will be compensated for their damages, with many Ministers echoing sentiments that violent protestors will face the full force of the law for their actions.