The 2017 G20 summit provoked the most intense clashes in Germany yet this century. We were there providing continuous coverage; in the month since, we’ve synthesized the reports from Hamburg to produce a complete chronology and analysis. This is an epic story of state violence and popular resistance on a scale rarely witnessed in the US and northern Europe.
Executive summary: the police attempted to use brute force to isolate and terrorize all who came to demonstrate against the G20, but in the process, they turned a large part of the population against them and the city spiraled out of control. This reminds us that the most important events take place on the margins of any given conflict—the spread of rebellion is more significant than the actions of avowed radicals. The police strategy underscores how central old-fashioned coercive violence is to the power of the G20 leaders; yet once again, we saw that a determined populace can outmaneuver even the best-trained and best-equipped police. If over 31,000 fully militarized officers using everything short of lethal force can’t maintain order at the most important security event of the year in Europe’s richest nation, perhaps it is possible to imagine revolution on the horizon after all.
So we must begin by honoring the courage of those who stood up to the G20, whether by organizing demonstrations, housing visitors after the police raided the camp, marching in the black bloc, offering medical care to victims of police aggression, or interrupting the sanctimonious narrative of “Tidy Up Hamburg” afterwards.
Yet every victory brings new challenges. While no one expected Hamburg to succeed in standing up to the police and creating a temporary autonomous zone in the midst of what was essentially a military occupation, this achievement gives right-wing authoritarians and their fearful liberal accomplices an excuse to push for even greater state control. As a consequence, some people—especially those who were not in Hamburg—formed a conspiracy theory that the authorities intentionally permitted the police to lose control of Hamburg. This old allegation resurfaces every time people get the best of the police; it is an automatic reflex for those so accustomed to state control that they attribute all events to the will of a monolithic, omnipotent authority. In this zine, arranged as a chronology of the G20 protests, we put the facts at your disposal so you can decide for yourself what happened.
Read the full text online here.