Samstag, 15. Juli 2017

G20 in Hamburg - Thoughts and feelings about Hamburg-home and the riots

I don't usually write about politics here but this time I had to. 
Many of you asked me, if I was okay and how I was feeling/thinking about the G20 in Hamburg and the riots that came with it.
I appreciate that. I think we should never stop talking and thinking. So here's how I see G20 and the riots.

Facts first. It has been a little over a week now that Hamburg was in G20-chaos. In the meantime several police officers and radicals were under investigation. The numbers are still varying and the people are still talking. That's the main reason, why I want to write about last weekend. I am not sure how much my friends from oversea hear about the whole thing, even though I think it really is important for many of us.

peaceful demonstration against G20 in Hamburg

First of all: As I always do, I spoke with a lot of people. For me it's alsways the best way, to hear both (or in this case: all) sides before I make up my mind. And even after. Different people see and feel different things in the same situation. This wasn't any different last weekend.
I heard opposite statements about the same moments and both had some truth to them.
Before I start, I want to make it very clear that we all have opinions depending on our own circumstances, experiences and personalities. This here is mine. No absolute truth. An opinion. I am trying to make people think. If you think about the world or anything I've said in this post, I am happy and I'd be even happier, if you share your thoughts in public and we start a discussion to think and change more. But please keep in mind: This here is a tiny little bit of experience from the past weekend and not the only truth. I am happy to learn from you and I hope you do too. Let's not keep on fighting, we had enough of that. Instead we should try to learn from each other.

I say this, because I've seen a lot of really unnecessary mean and angry discussions on facebook lately. People unfriend each other, because they don't agree on something. We should never stop discussing and fighting for whatever we believe in but we should do it with open eyes and open hearts and not to be the person, who wins, but for the cause.

And this is exactly my biggest problem with the whole G20 weekend. What do we see in the news now? What do we speak about? The riots. The fire. The demonstrations and how violent the radicals were. How violent and unorganised the police was. What about G20? What about the hunger in the world, about social injustice and environment? All these reasons, why people went on the street for in the first place?
No one speaks about the problems that were the actual thing about G20. Everyone speaks about the fires as if they were the biggest event ever. Those riots and much(!!) worse are reality in other parts of the world every day!! And as far as I know, was that the original reason, people planned demonstrations, came to Hamburg and had something to say. Let's please not forget that under all those headlines about radicals, brutal cops and terrorism.

For everyone who hasn't seen the news lately or wasn't in contact with me: G20 (the most powerful and rich countries come together to talk about the question how to stay as rich) took place in Hamburg, Germany last weekend. Many Hamburgers (not a joke that's what you call Hamburg's citizens..) were against the G20 and especially to host this event, partly because they were against the concept of G20, partly because such an event (and no, it is not a Hafengeburtstag...) brings things with it like demonstrations, potentionally riots and chaos and - definitely - a lot of chaos and annoying shit like stop-and-go, late busses and blocked streets as well as waste and noise for the citizens.

Defekt: Broken.
But still it happened so in the first week of July, a wave of visitors came to Hamburg. People from all parts of Germany and even other countries camped here, to protest against G20 and take part in bigger demonstrations.
During the G20 it came to crazy riots, the Schanze (my neighbourhood in Hamburg, 15 minutes walk from where I live) was on fire over and over again. Shops, cars and streets got destroyed and the police was protecting the G20 and it's high politicians more than us citizens. Violence came from both sides and protest came from both sides.
Now that it's over, it's time to review, reflect and ask questions - and a whole city does. How was it possible that something like this, almost a warsituation for a weekend could happen in Germany out of nowhere? Who was the actual violent and activly pushing party - Police or radicals? Why did the whole thing escalated? And what do we learn from it?
Since I was back in Hamburg during this time and I know a lot of my friends were only able to follow the whole thing through news and facebook, I want to share, how it felt like, to see (one of) my home(s) becoming a zone out of legality, where everything could have happend and to share what I have seen and heard by friends and people who were involved. To complete the picture the media paints a little more.

It actually started long before the G20: It started with the camps.
demonstrants with mummery
The police tried to stop these camps and this is the critical point, where opinions don't match anymore. From what I've seen and heard was there already quite some violence involved. Mostly from the cops' side, which makes sense when we look at the later pictures of a burning Hamburg. Maybe those camps were not a good idea after all and we should have supported the police to send at least some of those people home. On the other hand, there was definitely violence involved and it was the police who stopped the "Welcome to hell" demo before it started. We can argue about the mummery (the official reason why the demo was stopped was the black block and people who hid their faces, which is illegal). When does mummery starts? Are sunglasses protection for the teargas (in this case a very justified question...) or are they mummery? What about a hoodie? And why can we still not really identify a police officer? Because they come from the gouvernment? With all due respect - and I have respect for the police men and women after G20, they (or let's say the majority) were not treated right nor fair at all - but I have seen police officers using their helmets as a mummery and having fun to be the stronger one, using the "protection" as weapon to beat people and to make the first step. I understand that police are not demonstrants. Still some of them are using their power and abusing it and their identity should be visible (or more visible, a number for their unit is still not enough identity in my eyes) in case someone needs to report one of them.
peaceful demonstrants
I also know, this brings problems for the security of the police officers - still. When you stand in front of two black blocks and one of them asked the other one to take off the mummery while they are one black wall too - with bigger and stronger weapons even... Than there is a reason why people hesitate to.

After the welcome to hell demo the real riots started. And no wonder: The demonstration didn't make it 100m, it was canceled and all those angry black blockers were running around in groups.
Up to this point I do have sympathies. I understand that a lot of people have enough of peaceful demonstrations that don't change anything. I understand, they have enough of being unheard and ignored.

I do not understand the violence that came after neither have I any sympathy for it. I want to show it in pictures. Someone made this youtubevideo out of many videos from different people. I want to note that not all protests were like this. There were a lot of peaceful demonstrations but this was reality, too.
I am not a big fan to spread these headlines more and more in the media and since I didn't film these videos I can not take responsibility for them but for those, who haven't heard about the chaos here it might be easier to understand through pictures. That's the only reason, why I included this video.

Not only cars started to burn as a political sign (GODDAMN IT! Not everyone has an assurance, there are humans behind it, humans who might had to save and work hard for this goddamn car if you personally like it or not but NOTHING gives you the right to destroy it!), also bikes (wtf you anticapitalism radicals, are you aware that an old bike is no Mercedes...?! In this situation, I got myself in a little danger by yelling at some black blockers until I realized that they were in the majority and I should maybe not yell too loud.), shops (and not only the big ones, pretty much all the shops had broken windows, no matter if they were supermarket chains or little book stores) and even living houses started to burn. I am glad to say no one died. But the number of hurt police officers was immense - the media is quite unclear on that. Numbers vary between 160 and up to 600 but even 160 is shit and I assume 160 means the serious injuries, 600 the twisted ankles. But anyway. What the police men and women had to endure is crazy. They slept max. a few hours per night, they had to stand still while people yelled at them, insulted them, even threw bottles and molotov-cocktails at them. And they had to stay calm. With all this pressure. For days without enough sleep. They had to react and follow instructions and orders.
I often ask myself how many of those guys would rather walk on the street among us, instead of standing there for hours in their hot and heavy uniform. Some of them looked insanely tired.
Don't get me wrong. As I said, I've seen both: Violent and power-loving police officers and very tired, almost sad ones, who just stood there and did their job, trying to solve the situation as good as they could.
cops are investigating peaceful people
in a parc - no visible reason in this case.
citizens protesting.
And please: don't anyone come with the argument: "Well, I'm not sorry - they should get another job then." No. These people are humans, too. Some of them became police officers, to protect us, to help. Some of them - I agree - not. Some of them like the feeling to have a stick in their hand and don't get in trouble for beating someone up. But a police officer is not just a police officer. He or she is a human being with a personality. You can like or dislike this personality, but to hear one more person say "I hate all cops" drives me crazy. Go to Africa if you really want to see corrupt cops. Or go and hate the big boss - The politicians and the ones who make the rules and the orders. But don't hate the ones on the street, just because they are from "the other group". This is war. Exactly this. The big guys decide we got war and then they have a coffee (Trump said he "felt very safe in Hamburg". Good for him. We citizens didn't, thanks to him and the others), while the ordinary people are sent to the battlefields and shoot each other. People who actually could be friends or neigbours.
Please. Let's not become this. Let's stay friends and neighbours.

Clown (is that a mummery...?) explains police officer, why they're here.
Communication and creativity instead of violence.

The same btw goes for the lefties. The black block. I already said it: I was angry because they burnt bikes. So I decided instead of yelling at them and get myself in danger (F***ck.... Do you have any idea, how scary it is to see 200 people, all in black, with hidden faces running towards you and destroying windows, breaking things, kicking things, burning things and yelling..?! It IS scary.). But still, I was angry too and I wanted to have an answer.
So I did get myself one. I picked one of those guys and ask him straight away, what the fuck his friends are doing there. And we talked. For 3 hours. Sitting on the street, because cars didn't drive anymore anyway. And I learned. I learned that the black block in Hamburg, the left radicals, the antifa and autonomous or however you want to call them are not all the same (oh wonder.). Just as the police: There are good ones and bad ones. People with different opinions, people with reasons and people with anger. And stupid teenagers (really. Sooooo many youngsters who had no idea was G20 means. Really no idea. I asked them.) HUMANS.
peaceful (but unheard) protest
In the end, I don't agree with all that he told me - quite the contrary: I hate the violence and I stand with all my soul against it. But I start to understand, why people feel they have to escalate to be heard.
After what Merkel said about the riots and that she would thank all police officers and she wouldn't mind peaceful demonstrations... I do understand that one gets angry... Not a single word about almost a whole city showing her that the G20 is not welcome - peaceful and violent. SO MANY PEOPLE. And she ignores it. Just thanks the police and goes on with G20. Just as when millions of people demonstrated against TIIP.
One thing, I'll never understand. Let it be a hate against Muslims, because one terrorist is one or hate against left demonstrants, because a few of them went over the line, let it be cops, because a few of them are abusing their power. I will never understand how people can be against a whole group, without seeing the people within it. Gosh damnit. There are humans (I think I have mentioned this before...). On the police's side, on the radicals side. They are not all good or bad. PLEASE. Go and ask them for their reasons instead of hating them all, because you don't agree with one or two actions.

When I talked with my black-block-friend (who btw did not burn anything and was totally against what happened in Hamburg), he was so busy with hating the cops and to prove that they started the escalation that he somehow forgot to tell me, what he was against in G20 - or what he stood for. I find this sad. G20 is a big thing. I am sure we all have opinions on that. So many people want a new system. But now, we won't speak about it. We will speak about "those criminals" who burned the city. We could have done better.

And the Hamburgers did.

Hamburg cleans up:
Demolition becomes a place for a new flower, citizens and police work together.

As sad I am about the riots, as happy makes me the reaction of my beloved Hamburger fellas. The riots went on and became worse. Radicals started to bring huge cobblestones up to some rooftops. The plan was to drop them on the cops, when they arrive.
I have to say this, just to make it clear: This would have been murder.
people standing together
And the Hamburgers, who already started to get pissed anyway, because all these people completely destroyed their neighbourhood (by that time it was in the media that a lot of the riots were lead by people from other countries - We all wonder if those people would have done that to their own families and neighbours...?) the Hamburgers however... They had enough. And they went to those guys and took the cobblestones right back to their places. And called the cops to warn them. The riots went on but as the G20 ended on sunday, Hamburg's people called each other to clean up the city.
Faith in humanity restored. So many beautiful people. Cleaning up, planting flowers, writing signs, what we should learn from it and what was positive in all this chaos.
I think as we saw the chaos in pictures, we should see the clean-up in pictures, too. Selfmade this time.

Baristas brough coffee, restaurants food and construction companies material

This was interesting. It was so diverse. A few people thanked the cops, another few asked, where they had been (valid question, not to the cops but to the people who make the orders. Who protected us? Where was the police, when cars were burned? Yes. They protected Merkel, Erdogan and Trump. And Putin, eventhough we all know, he can fight alone.).
Another few praised the solidarity within our lovely city and censured the violence and the radicals/criminals and another few asked the politicians what the hell they were thinking to bringing this chaos to us.
And I agree on all. Yes. The politicians have not set anything on fire. But they brought it here. Without agreement of citizens. They also did not protect us or helped us to clean up (oh yes, Merkel said, there will be compensations for everyone, who lost something but let's be honest, if she pays it out of our taxes it won't really hurt her, will it..?). THEY were protected. We were not.
I also agree on thanking the police. I could have not done your job. I know that there are some among you, who don't deserve my gratitude. But I believe the majority does. And I am sorry that our system forced you to sleep less, stand and fight longer and being exposed to anger and hate. This is not right. I can only say: Stand with us. I welcome you to stand on my side for a better world and a new system. Not with violence - but with strengh.
I agree on the critic on our system. That the rich become richer and the poor are suffering. I agree that it can't be right that the police protects 20 people, who are talking about something, that half or more than half of the nation doesn't want, while hard working people are scared in their own homes. I agree that it can't be right that nearly 100.000 people are on the street saying "no" and Merkel just smiles and says "it is your right to say "no" - let's keep doing this." This is not democracy anymore. I may remind on TTIP again and how many people said no. And nothing stopped.
I agree that violence is no option but I also understand that there is a reason why people get frustrated and angry. I agree on not tolerating violence but neither can I provide the ultimate solution to be heard (yet).
I agree on loving the solidarity and creativity in Hamburg and I am proud and happy to see my own people (if that exists, in the end we're all the same) loving stronger than hating and rebuilding and standing together after all.

"If you wanna know, where this damage came from, ask us. It's for sure different than you think."
People start a dialogue.

and ask if there is something positiv about the whole chaos.

In the end I find it hard to have only one point of view. I want to make this very clear: I have no(!) understanding nor sympathy for the radicals, who harmed people. In my eyes violence is not a solution. Ever.
The same goes for those police officers, who like to show how powerful they are by spraying teargas right into someone's eyes after this one dropped his glasses.
And both is true. Seen it with my own eyes.
But after this... I think we are on a point where we have to open our mouthes and be loud. Loud. Not violent. We are awake after the G20. We have seen, that chaos is not as far as we might think or have thought.

"infinite solidarity. Crafting connects - G20 seperates us."
This sign was nailed in front of a shop window to protect it from stones. A demonstrator painted it.

I said in the beginning, I want to share not only thought but also feelings.
Hamburg was a chaos for 3 days. No one could say, what would happen next. I have never felt this way here in Hamburg or esewhere in Germany. I don't want to draw a comparison with a warzone, because I think that would rightly offend many people and because I think we can not imagine what it must be like to life in a constant danger.
But I - personally and I heard similar feelings from a lot of people - got a first (very tiny) insight, how it feels to constantly hear the helicopters flying and smell the smoke (and with constant I mean constant. It was impossible to open the window because of this noise, smoke, horns and not at least fear and I was not even in the main zone). I understood for the first time how it feels to get used to chaos and to live in it - and this was only a weekend, which I'm well aware of! I understood fully, how lucky we are, to live in peace and safety. Even if many of my left orientated friends will protest now and say this safety is an illusion. But fact is: I was never hungry. I was never attacked on the streets and I could always speak out what I had to say. Even in this chaos, you could hear both sides in the daily news. Maybe not fully but both parties had the right to speak and were not muted.
"If you're shocked about the riots in
the Schanze - don't say Afghanistan
would be safe to live in!"
Yes, the system we live in is not perfect. But we are much, much better than a lot of countries and I am insanely grateful for it.
We still can and should make it better but we need to be aware how safe we are compared to others.

Another fact is: As sad and angry as I am about all this unnecessary violence here. This and much more is every day life elsewhere and if all of us would spend as much attention on these people we wouldn't have freaking G20 anymore. Yes, it is shit that cars and shops are destroyed. But can we think about people who lost their complete homes and families for a second? Can we think about the fact that a lot of those people, who are crying for justice and peace now are the same people who are moaning around when it comes to the refugee center in their neighbourhood?
I can only hope that this weekend was not for nothing. I hope we all learned something new. I hope we listen to others more in the future, that we open our eyes and hearts and that we manage it to bring the open discourse back to the main point: Social justice. And not headlines and riots.

Let's hope, we keep more from it in our heads and hearts than a few bags full of waste.

I am sure you have an opinion. I want to hear it. I might disagree, you might disagree but let's talk about it as friends and share the wisdom in the comments below.

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