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A day of violent clashes between police and protesters culminated on Friday evening with the bizarre spectacle of the heads of the world’s 20 leading economies listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at the top of a shiny high-rise building while police used water cannon, teargas and speed boats to keep at bay an angry crowd of thousands. Germany’s second-largest city had been eager to showcase its recently opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall to the rest of the world, but it may come to rue its ivory-tower symbolism after a week of chaotic scenes on the edges of the conference hall.
Rising tensions between protesters and police had escalated with clashes in Hamburg’s historic harbour area on Thursday night, and escalated further when masked anti-capitalist protesters torched cars and smashed shop windows in the Altona district on Friday morning.
Masked protesters in black clothes used flares to set fire to at least 20 cars and pelted rocks at the windows of banks and smaller shops as they made their way through Altona and along the Elbchaussee road along the river at about 7.30 am on Friday morning.
Many shops and cafes in the area, including a local Ikea, boarded up their windows in anticipation of further rioting.