Ms. Merkel hoped to show leaders of G-20 countries where protests are routinely quashed, like Turkey and Russia, how they could be allowed to take place peacefully, in keeping with the country’s Constitution. Though the police tried to keep protesters from setting up camps in public parks, a policy that was challenged in court, many other kinds of demonstrations have been registered and allowed to take place.
“I know that the political agenda of such summits also have their critics; from the point of view of a democracy, that is a good thing,” Ms. Merkel told Parliament in June. “It goes without saying that such peaceful criticism is protected by the Constitution. But, I stress, it must be peaceful.”
Andy Grote, Hamburg’s interior minister, said on Friday, “The police will be able to handle the situation.”
Organizers handed out maps showing the planned routes of the two biggest demonstrations — one on Thursday night called “Welcome to Hell,” timed for when leaders would be gathering in the city, and one at the close of the summit meeting on Saturday called “Solidarity for All.” With the organizers anticipating trouble, the maps bore a warning: “Take enough water and a first-aid kit with you — and don’t wear contact lenses,” in case the police used tear gas or pepper spray.
The demonstrations were meant to be peaceful, but some did not stay that way. The police said windows were smashed and dozens of cars and trash cans were set on fire Thursday night, and water cannons and tear gas were used to control unruly crowds.
The police and the protest organizers blamed one another for the violence. The police said that masked protesters had disobeyed orders to uncover their faces; demonstrators said the police had provoked them.
The police “charged us, because some people were wearing masks,” said Camille Makhno, a protester dressed in all black — the style of a group called the Black Bloc that announced before the demonstration began that its members would resort to violence if they felt threatened. Mr. Makhno said he had refused to disperse during a Thursday protest, and a riot officer struck him. His face was bandaged and bruised.
“We’re here protesting against inequality, against the few leaders who make decisions for the entire world,” Mr. Kleine said. “We were promised a festival of democracy, and what we are living through is civil war on our streets.”
Despite the violent skirmishes between a knot of protesters and police, many of the demonstrations remained peaceful. A “critical mass” protest of hundreds of cyclist circled the city in a defiant demonstration against the extreme police presence.
Louise Lotzig, an 18-year-old student wrapped in a rainbow flag, said she was a regular at monthly cycling demonstrations, that are also held independently of the summit.
“With this action, we are requesting the police respect the right of the people to their city and their streets,” the high school student said.
Even as the cyclists circled the perimeter of the security zone, ringing the bells on their handlebars, a policeman in the Schanzen district fired a warning shot to disperse a group of protesters who were kicking a man on the ground, police said.
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