In light of Friday’s rioting, recent statements made by Hamburg officials ahead of the G-20 seem naive in the extreme. One came from the Hartmut Dudde, the head of operations for the Hamburg police, who said: “If we say here’s where things stop, then that’s where they stop. We will also take action. We’re not going to wait if crimes are being committed.”
Another statement came from his boss, Hamburg Police Chief Ralf Martin Meyer. “We are better prepared than we ever have been,” he boasted in the run-up to the G-20.
And then, of course, there’s the statement from Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz, who promised the city’s residents: “Don’t worry, we can guarantee your safety.”
But on Friday, July 7, none of these sentences applied. Even that morning, a marauding gang was raging through the Hamburg neighborhoods of Ottensen and Altona, setting cars on fire by the dozens. Later in the day, a mob raged for hours in the alternative Schanzenviertel neighborhood, long a hotbed of leftist activity. They broke windows, lit barricades on fire, looted stores and threatened to kill police. Many would later say hyperbolically that it was like “a war zone.” Others described the scene as anarchy — as though the state had receded before the mob.
The question that must now be answered is clear: What went wrong?