Hamburg — Germany’s Group of 20 (G-20) summit host city Hamburg is bracing for potentially violent "Welcome to Hell" protests by anticapitalist activists after police detained six people on Thursday for throwing bottles as about 11,000 protesters marched through the city.
Police were also investigating a fire at a local Porsche dealership in which eight luxury vehicles went up in flames.
Ugly scenes played out on Tuesday night as riot police used water cannon and pepper spray to clear an unauthorised protest camp, leaving five people injured and driving fears of more trouble ahead.
Up to 100,000 demonstrators are expected before and during the two-day G-20 meeting that starts on Friday and will bring US President Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and other leaders to the city.
Germany’s second city, hosting its largest international meeting, has deployed about 20,000 police at the event sites, equipped with riot gear, armoured vehicles, helicopters and surveillance drones.
A holding centre for detainees has been set up with space for 400 people.
About 30 protests have been announced before and during the meeting, organised by antiglobalisation activists and environmentalists, trade unions, students and church groups.
"Welcome to Hell" organiser Andreas Blechschmidt said the motto is "a combative message … but it’s also meant to symbolise that G-20 policies worldwide are responsible for hellish conditions like hunger, war and the climate disaster".
Blechschmidt said activists would seek to blockade access to the summit venue and "reserve for themselves the option of militant resistance" against police.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while peaceful demonstrations had to be respected, "those who use violence mock democracy".
Hamburg has banned rallies from the inner city and along access roads to the airport, forcing marchers into harbourside areas of St Pauli and Altona, away from the G-20.
Protesters accuse the authorities of turning Germany’s second city into a "police fortress" and restricting their constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate.
The city says it will not be taking any chances as it must protect leaders, about 10,000 delegates and almost 5,000 media workers from the threat of terrorist attacks as well as the street protests.
Tourists Claudia Keller and her partner Werner Hofes tried to enjoy the Alster lake view from a park bench on Thursday as police sirens filled the air, the nearby railway tracks were sealed off with razor wire and helicopters buzzed overhead.
"Had we known this when we booked, we wouldn’t have come — we can’t really go anywhere," said Keller, a medical laboratory assistant from a town near Essen to the south.