zaterdag 22 juli 2017

The G20 in Hamburg: Welcome to Hell!

Many people were surprised by the severe resistance against the G20 summit in Hamburg. This led to many discussions within anti-capitalist circles. In the run-up to the G20 the system media already warned for the arrival of more than 150.000 protesters, of which according to estimates of the coppers 8000 would be prepared to use violence. Some observers of the ACN/AKN travelled to Hamburg to report.

The day in advance of the G20 summit the police chief Hartmut Dudde* already informed his troops of a change of course: the coppers would follow a hard, repressive line. There was no option of a deescalation strategy. Dudde beforehand, chose for a confrontation with the protesters.

Although the initial protests against the G20 remained peaceful, they escalated Thursday at night during the “Welcome to Hell” demonstration in Hamburger-Hafen. According to the system media the coppers wanted to disband the protest, because some protesters refused to take down their facial covers. In practice the 12.000 protesters didn't get a chance to participate with the demands of the coppers. The coppers immediately confronted and attacked the protesters in an attempt to isolate about 1.000 autonomen from the rest of the protest. Despite the efforts to contain these protesters, several groups were able to break out of the police chain to spread out in the neighborhood of Sternschanzen. Here in the streets it deteriorated into a battle field: expensive cars were burned out; there was  much smoke in the streets and above because of burning objects and barricades; robocops in the streets; excessive use of violence, teargas and water cannons by the coppers.

This violent escalation marked the mood for the coming days. Friday was also the scene of an unprecedented repression by the coppers. Sternschanzen was hermetically sealed off, heavy armed special units (SEK) were deployed and extra reinforcements were called in (despite an already 20.000 officers (!) strong force). The neighborhood St. Pauli was still somewhat accessible and became the scene of several 'protest' parties, spontaneous protests and short cat-and-mouse games with the coppers. Saturday the events would end with a bourgeois mass demonstration, in which over 200.000 people made a fist against the G20. The protest itself was mostly peaceful, but once again ended in provocations by the coppers. However, the intense resistance of the previous days abstained.

The decision of bundeskanzler Merkel to organize the G20 summit in the left wing bulwark Hamburg proved to be a game of party politics. In reaction to the violence the system media claimed the “left” should take responsibility for the events in Hamburg. Fingers were mostly pointed at the reformist and bourgeois “left” parties (SPD, Die Grünen and Die Linke). Only 'Die Linke' dared to condemn the excessive police violence, but soon recalled this declaration, to join in with the rest of the bourgeoisie. In the Netherlands we saw a similar response with the reformists from the SP, where Emile Roemer also condemned the violence surrounding the G20 (he remained surprisingly silent about the police violence).

There were also discussions in the radical-left scene about the violence surrounding the protests against the G20. Some embraced the riots and didn't want to discredit the spontaneity of the actions. Others condemned the so-called 'senseless riots' and 'a-political violence'. Andreas Blechsmidt - representative of the Rote Flora - (rightly so) pointed the finger towards the policy of the police on Thursday. Not the Black Bloc, but the coppers were guilty of the violence. Still, he distanced himself from the vandalism in Schanzenviertel. A logic statement considering the Rote Flora depends on a good relation with the neighborhood, which provides back cover for its activities there. Remarkably enough Blechsmidt could count on acclamation of the system media (and a local group of enterprises): The vandalism and plunder had to be the work of South-Europeans (Greek, Italian, Spanish and French protesters), who were not conscious about the relations in the neighborhood. Or, they simply saw everything German as a legitimate target (because German imperialism is for most part responsible for the economic excavations of the weak economies of Southern-Europe, which caused much grudge).

Also, within the nationalist scene the events in Hamburg provoked many reactions. A significant part displayed itself once again as being arch-reactionary: “Hamburg would have been hostage of an organized anarchist terrorism!” The hooligans of HoGeSa called “to take back control over the city!” - a clandestine call to attack anti-G20 protesters together with the coppers. The usual right wing elements were on the forefront to cry along with the howling wolfs of the bourgeoisie, and condemned “the rioters who destroyed the private property of the working class [really ???].” The Dutch ACN/AKN collective takes a far distance from any of these kinds of reactionary elements (also within the international ACN-relations!). The targeted actions against the G20, its infrastructure and its security (the coppers), would never have been possible without spontaneous 'riots' and temporary rebellion. Therefore, it is useless to connect these events to some kind of misplaced ethical philosophy, let alone uncritically parroting the system media and bourgeoisie!




Note: * Hartmut Dudde has a long history as chief in command of police violence. On the eve of the 21st of December 2013, Dudde already tried to stop an autonomous demonstration. This succeeded after just 200 meters. However, it then completetely escalated: stones flew, water cannons were deployed and there were hundreds of wounded on both sides. The system media described it as a “battlefield”, one of the biggest confrontations Hamburg had seen in a long while. Days after the incident there were stil parts of the city that were declared 'no-go areas'. 

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