Protests continue as G-20 summit ends in Germany
Huge protests were still raging as the Group of 20 summit ended in Hamburg on Saturday evening, following a night of violent riots and looting.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday condemned the “unfettered violence and unrestrained brutality” and said there was “not the slightest justification for looting, arson and brutal attacks on police.”
In a sign of how the demonstrations have overshadowed the gathering of leaders from 20 of the world’s biggest economies, Merkel spent much of a closing news conference thanking the police and defending her decision to hold the summit in Hamburg, which has a well-known anti-capitalist scene.
“We had to do this in a big city because of the hotels. The police officers did their best and still are doing their best,” Merkel said.
Crowds of around 55,000 protesters gathered in Hamburg on Saturday, the last day of the summit.
Police officers arrested 43 people and detained 96 on Friday night during a raid of houses in the city’s left-wing Schanzenviertel district. Police raided houses one-by-one after masked protesters threw Molotov cocktails from rooftops at officers, Hamburg police spokesman Jörg Schröder said. The department called in a special armed unit for the raid.
In the same neighborhood, a group of 500 protesters looted a single grocery store early Saturday.
“There has never been this kind of excess of violence in Hamburg,” Schröder said. He said police were prepared for more violence.
“Today is another dangerous day, even if the summit is over.”
Thousands of protesters were still marching Saturday evening when Merkel left the congress hall where the G-20 summit was held to meet with police officers and Hamburg’s mayor.
She told journalists the German government would compensate victims of the violent protests.
Police have dispersed crowds with water cannons and pepper spray and blocked off streets with armored vehicles. Close to 1,000 officers traveled to Hamburg from other parts of Germany on Friday after the city’s police department called for backup.
Since the demonstrations started Wednesday, at least 213 police officers have been injured. Schröder said the department does not record the number of injured demonstrators.
Stupp is a special correspondent.
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