Following Raids on Wednesday G-8 Opponents Take to the Streets

Thousands of G-8 opponents staged demonstrations across Germany on Wednesday evening, with the protest in Hamburg turning violent. The demos followed police raids on left-wing activists.

The German state suspects them of having plotted to create a terrorist organization. But for thousands of protesters who took to the streets in cities across Germany on Wednesday evening, the police raids carried out against left-wing, anti-G-8 radicals earlier on Wednesday was yet more proof of government heavy handedness.

Berlin hosted the largest demonstration as some 3,000 people marched in the Kreuzberg neighborhood under the slogan "Against the G-8 and Repression." But while the Berlin protest was free of violence, things got out of hand in Hamburg with hundreds of the 2,000 protesters throwing bottles and firing off fireworks at police.

Eight demonstrators were ultimately arrested as police responded in force, with 1,000 officers and a water cannon. Earlier on Wednesday, police in Hamburg had raided "Rote Flora," a favored leftist hangout, and confiscated computers and files as part of its offensive against left-wing radicals in the run-up to the G-8 meeting in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm from June 6-8.

Elsewhere in Germany, smaller groups of protesters took to the streets of Cologne, Leipzig, Göttingen, Hanover, and a number of cities and towns in northern Germany near where the G-8 meeting is set to take place. The Wednesday raids involved 900 police across Germany. The offensive was launched on suspicions that the left-wing scene in the country was planning violent attacks as part of its anti-G-8 activities.

"The militant extreme left groups and their members are suspected of having founded a terrorist group, or of being members of such an organization, with the specific goal of staging fire bombings and other violent attacks in order to disrupt or prevent the upcoming G-8 summit in Heiligendamm," federal prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday.

Left-wing groups sharply criticized the Wednesday raids, with an Attac spokesman calling the raids an "attempt to criminalize the entire spectrum of G-8 opponents." Germany's Green Party chair Claudia Roth likewise condemned the police action and the Left Party accused the government of creating a "climate of escalation."

As head of the G-8 this year, Chancellor Angela Merkel will host the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US. Fearing a repeat of the violence which has plagued previous such summits, Germany has spared no expense to keep protestors far away from the summit site, having shelled out €12.5 million ($16.6 million) to build a 12-kilometer fence around Heiligendamm.



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