G7 protesters outmatched in Bavaria | News | DW | 08.06.2015
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G7 protesters outmatched in Bavaria

The world leaders' meet in the German Alps has ended with almost no clashes between the protesters and the security forces. Exhausted, outnumbered by police and after two wet nights, many protesters even went home early.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann has praised the decision to mobilize some 18,000 police officers to keep the peace during the G7 summit.

"Potential violent offenders have thought hard whether to do anything, or come at all," Herrmann said at a press conference Monday.

The conference had been "an advertisement" for the state of Bavaria, the minister added, "like from a picture book." After major violence between police and protesters at Germany's last G8 summit at Heiligendamm in 2007, and more recently the unrest at the opening of the new European Central Bank head offices in Frankfurt, domestic media had played close attention to the possiblity of more protests in Bavaria.

According to police estimates, 3,600 protesters gathered near the Schloss Elmau castle, where the two-day summit took place, meaning that the security forces outnumbered the demonstrators almost five to one.

The only violent incident was reported ahead of the meeting on Saturday, with eight police officers hurt. Although 72 protesters were temporarily detained, only two were put in jail for throwing objects at the security forces.

Weather working for the establishment

The protest organizers blame the massive police presence for the small number of participants.

"Naturally, it has something to do with unbelievable controls and the security effort," said Ingrid Scherf from the organization "Stop G7."

In addition to the tough security, the G7 protesters had to contend with heavy summer showers flooding their tents and sleeping bags during the night, and the rough alpine terrain.

Many of the locals invited the protesters into their homes after the heavy rain.

The organizers canceled their final rally, scheduled for Monday, saying they had already walked too much during their march on the previous day.

Division among the dissidents

The anti-G7 movement is also troubled by internal divisions, with more moderate elements distancing themselves from the rest and holding far bigger protests in Munich ahead of the meet.

At the same time, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann warned that the more extreme wing could gather up to 3,000 violent individuals for their rally in the German Alps, both from Germany and other European countries.

This actual number proved to be far smaller, with police sources stating that only "300 to 500 individuals who were clearly ready to resort to violence" turned up at the protests.

The officials, however, kept their reserve towards the protesters, who spent a total of six days camping in the Alps.

"There were plenty of cheerful young people. But, there were also some of them who would attack us if they had a chance. But they had no chance," one of the police officers in charge of communicating with the protesters told AFP.

dj/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters, epd)

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