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Flames Subside But Protests Continue As G-20 Leaders Gather For Hamburg Summit

A woman is pepper-sprayed by police after she climbed onto an armored vehicle on the first day of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Matthias Schrader AP
A woman is pepper-sprayed by police after she climbed onto an armored vehicle on the first day of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The smoke and flames have largely subsided in the streets of Hamburg, Germany, but anti-globalization protests that have sometimes turned violent continued for a second day on Friday, marring the Group of 20 summit of the world's leading economic powers.

Police, who say protesters touched off the violence that began on Thursday by hurling rocks at officers, brought in reinforcements to bolster a 20,000-strong contingent and responded by directing pepper spray and water cannons at the activists in the northern German city.

As The Two-Way's Amy Held wrote Thursday, "Police had predicted there would be some 100,000 demonstrators. But German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said earlier in the week that the city was bracing for up to 8,000 potentially violent protesters."

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, reporting Friday morning from an area near Hamburg's central train station, tells Morning Edition that the streets had grown quieter and that authorities believe they have brought the situation under control.

Describing the protesters, she says that some identify as anti-fascist activists and hail from Germany. But another group, the one that police believe is most responsible for the violence, arrived by train from Switzerland.

"Some want the G-20 dissolved because they say it doesn't represent any of the countries whose fates are being decided at this summit," Soraya says. "Others want the focus [of the summit] to be on climate change. Then you have others wanting rights for specific groups, be they women, refugees or oppressed minorities."

Soraya said there were still police helicopters circling the area.

Because of the protests, first lady Melania Trump was unable to immediately join the president at the summit venue earlier Friday.

The first lady's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told reporters in Hamburg that police there "couldn't provide clearance for us to leave."

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