Image by Tim Lüddemann.

First Thoughts After #NoG20 in #Hamburg: Unmasking the Police State

The G20 heads of states, German politicians and their lackeys in uniform try to sell the myth that the clashes in Hamburg were “apolitical” to the general public. First thoughts about the G20 protests and the aftermath. A lot has been written about the No G20 protests and its aftermath. With this article we want to add our first thoughts about the events of last week.

You will find all our No G20 stories here.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

From the beginning police authorities and politicians tried to demobilize and suppress the NoG20 protests in Hamburg. Liberals organised their own demo on the second of July, almost a week before the G20 summit and the cops declared red and blue zones where every kind of protest was banned. The state tried to intimidate people with stories about the 20.000 strong army of cops and their weaponry. But it didn’t work. The reformist demo didn’t mobilise as much people as the NoG20 protests during the summit and the police violence against any kind of prostests only made people more determined and angry. 

Hamburg was in a state of emergency long before the G20 delegations arrived. Cops were cheking people randomly all the time for weeks, so the anger from many of the inhabitants was growing day by day. Even many of the conservative voters already had enough befor the summit started. The violent police tactics became visible during the conflict around the protest camp at Elbpark Entenwerder on the second of July. Even German activists didn’t expect that the cops would fully ignore court verdicts. Which wasn’t surprising as the way the cops openly stated in German media that “there will be no camp with tents to sleep. Hundreds of riot cops attacking the camp although tents to sleep were allowed by court, was unprecedented. So from the beginning cops were not only escalating, they also putted themselves above what the political esthablishment calls “the rule of law.”

In the days that followed violent cops attacked any kind of protest. Solidarity was growing across the city and the police state had already lost long before the first stones were thrown. After the massive attack against the Welcome to Hell demo on Thursday, people started to defend themselves. On Friday the cops lost control for hours and ordered reinforcements from across the country. As we already wrote in our reportback the cops could have regained control without to much problems after organised groups had retreated. But they didn’t, they waited for several more hours before they started to clear the Schanze district. The police state used the opportunity to send in special police squats with machine guns, which had permission to shoot with live ammo. Police authorities motivated the deployment of the heavily armed SEK, COBRA and WEGA squads with fakenews; according to authorities people where throwing molotov cocktails from a roof. They released a video to “proof” their claim. Experts analyzed the police video and came to the conclusion that there were no molotov cocktails thrown from the roof, saying it was a bengal light thrown on an armoured water canon. The deployment of the special police squats with machine guns is also unprecedented in Germany. 

The clashes in the Schanze district were heavy, but not as heavy like for instance the May Day riots in Berlin in 1987, or the clashes against the nuclear power industry in Wackersdorf or Brokdorf in the 1980’s. 

Still the summit of the powers that be was disrupted. Instead of the orchestrated images of the G20 heads of state, the images of clashes dominated the media. The knowledge of people who made the experience that even an army of 20.000 cops has its limits and can be forced to retreat is an important lesson for future confrontations.

After the clashes on Friday night, liberals and parts of the left started to distance themselves from the unheard who gave themselves a voice in the Schanze district. The political establishment started a media campaign, discrediting anything they consider to belong to “the left”. On German NDR media Hamburg’s Mayor Scholz even claimed “there was no police violence“. In Hamburg’s senate Scholz praised the brave police officers and said the state will persecute violent offenders  (video below with sequences of police violence). Some groups didn’t need long to get into the “distancing themselves” trap, that was set up for them.

Wether people like it or not; The rioting and looting of people who are being marginalized by neoliberal policies for years now are political. We speak here about the once that stayed in the Schanze district, after the organized militants had retreated from the area. The G20 is one of frameworks which is responsible for the policies that increased (and still is increasing) poverty and repression against those who were using rough language and attacked a few (not many!) small shops after the organised militants had left the Schanze district. Many of them were drunken, yes. If we say that we fight for a free and anti-capitalistic society, we should not distance ourselves from people who are being marginalized by G20 policies. We should reach out and talk to them, to discuss why its important to fight capitalism and to abolish sexism, racism, capitalism and the police state. Nobody said revolutionary struggle is going to be an easy job. Although we have a lot of experience, a lot of the youths that were on the streets at the Schanze district have to deal with racial profiling and other excrescents of the police state on a daily basis. The explosion of anger after weeks of police brutality in Hamburg should surprise nobody, many of these youths were already suffering from police brutality before the first activists from outside of Hamburg arrived. 

We can argue if randomly burning cars is tacticly the right thing to do, but it should be clear that car owners are not innocent. Destroying live on earth might be widely accepted in society, like supporting an economical system which is killing people is widely accepted in society, its not innocent.

To continue the struggle, our work in the city districts should be extended. To explain why we are doing things like we do. What targets we attack and why we dont attack others. Why sexism, racism and other policies that surpress, marginalize and discriminate people need to be abolished. We need to create a stronger basis to cope with the wave of repression that will come and to intensify the fight against the authoritarian police state. Reach out and dont dig in in little scenes. The combination of different protests during the G20 summit succeeded in unmasking the authoritarian police state, this could be a step foward in the struggle. Many “new” activists gained a lot of experience. Dont let the political establishment devide us. Let there be no doubt about it, it will be a long and hard fight, but we can win this fight.

In solidarity,

Enough is Enough

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission