Police rampage against G20 protestors in Hamburg

germany police protest
PHOTO: Thousands of police are on hand to face protesters in Hamburg. (AP: Sebastian Willnow, dpa)

07 July 2017 |James Cogan | WSWS

“…The police actions appear to have been a test of their riot tactics, ahead of possible attacks on the larger protests due to take place today and on Saturday, as well as a calculated attempt to intimidate people into not joining them.

The pretext for both last night’s attack, and future police operations, had been given well in advance. Some five hours before blocking the demonstration, Hamburg police spokesperson Timo Zill told journalists: “Militant protestors who exercise violence are not protected by Article 8”—the nominal “freedom of assembly” clause in Germany’s basic law. Zill included in the definition of “violence” any demonstrators who “disguise themselves.”

Protest organisers followed these statements with an explicit appeal to the police not to provoke an incident. One told Der Spiegel that if “the police don’t exploit the advantage of every masked [protester] and a firecracker here and there to escalate the situation, then the protest will end peacefully.”

The police proceeded to do the exact opposite.

Protestors denounced the assault on their right to demonstrate. Mark Meyer, another volunteer lawyer, told CNN: “The police wanted to crash and smash this demo from the beginning.” Julia, a 27-year-old from Frankfurt, said: “If this is all we can do… just 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?”

The G20 summit as a whole has been utilised by the German state to rehearse placing a major urban area under what can only be described as a police occupation. An estimated 20,000 police and some 3,000 vehicles, assembled from across the country, have been deployed to Hamburg—Germany’s second largest city with a population of some 1.7 million.

Heavily-armed paramilitary special units, such as sniper squads, are deployed at key locations in and around the venues where G20 events are scheduled to take place. All access to such areas has been proscribed, except for local residents. Helicopters are almost continuously in the air, conducting aerial surveillance.

The occupation of the city has involved the wholesale monitoring of peoples’ movements in combined police and intelligence operations across Europe. Hamburg police have admitted that demonstrators were tracked as they travelled to the city from at least Scandinavia, Switzerland and Italy.

The turn to ever-more authoritarian forms of rule is a universal process in what were once lauded as the “Western democracies.”

Similar police-state mobilisations have accompanied G20 summits over the past decade in cities such as London, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Seoul, Cannes and Brisbane. The suppression of protests has resulted in hundreds of people being injured and arrested and, in London in 2009, a demonstrator being killed at the hands of the police.

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