‘G20 protest wave’: 1,000s rally in Hamburg ahead of summit (VIDEO, PHOTO)

‘G20 protest wave’: 1,000s rally in Hamburg ahead of summit (VIDEO, PHOTO)
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the city of Hamburg, Germany to express discontent with the world powers that will be attending the upcoming meeting of the G20. It was the first of a dozen major protest rallies planned for the summit.

According to police, 10,000 people took part in the demonstration, which was held under the slogan ‘G20 protest wave.’ It was organized by various environmental and ecologically oriented organizations, including Greenpeace, as well as trade unions and rights groups, the German media report.

The rally organizers put the number of demonstrators at 18,000.

The protesters braved rain to attend the demonstration. “We are glad that so many people have come [to the [protest] despite poor weather conditions,” one of the organizers told the local media.

The demonstrators gathered outside Hamburg’s city hall for an hour-long “opening rally” and then marched through the city’s downtown area.

At the same time, a separate group of demonstrators staged a rally on the nearby river Alster, where some 120 kayaks, canoes, boats, and various floaters assembled to take part, according to Die Welt.

The protesters marched through the city waving flags bearing slogans reading “Democracy now!” and “Make the global trade fair!” as well as “Make the global trade ecologically friendly and fair – stop CETA, stop TTIP!” referring to free trade agreements the EU signed with Canada and are still discussing with the US.

Some other banners read “Planet Earth first!” in what appears to be a reference to US President Donald Trump’s political slogan “America First!” The demonstrators also urged the G20 leaders to “fight poverty” and “put an end to the coal industry.”

The march ended with another rally outside city hall. The protests were “very peaceful,” the German NDR broadcaster reports, citing police officials.

The organizers said they were protesting not against the G20 summit itself, but against the policies of the countries participating in the meeting. One of the demonstration’s major slogans read “a different policy is needed.”

The organizers called on world leaders to focus on inequality, climate change, and forced displacement, as well as to stop wars and combat global hunger. “Close the gap between the rich and poor!” a speaker at the rally said, adding that inequality “is not only immoral, but also detrimental to the economy.”

“We are not against the G20; we believe that the world needs more international cooperation, and not less,” one of the rally’s organizers said outside city hall.

About 30 demonstrations are expected to be held in Hamburg over the course of the summit week, which runs from July 1 to 9, according to the German media. The city is preparing for a potential outbreak of violence, as some protest groups have vowed to “defend their rights by all means” and already announced that they will try to block the ways to the summit venue.

The organizers expect a peak of over 100,000 protesters, of whom police say at least 8,000 will be anarchists and various left-wing radicals whose major goal is to disrupt the G20 meeting.

More than 20,000 police officers from across Germany have already been dispatched to the city in northwestern Germany to provide security for the summit, the German Muenchener Merkur daily reports.

“Freedom of assembly is only valid for peaceful demonstrations,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the German Bild daily on Sunday, adding that all violence “should be nipped in the bud.”