G20 in Hamburg with Journalist Colleagues

Hamburg, Germany, July 7th and 8th

Friday July 7th 2017 and Saturday morning I spent with two journalist colleagues in Hamburg at the G20 Summit. Actually not at the summit but in the streets. Here are some observations.

When Anne suggested I should join her for G20 summit two months ago I did not hesitate. I have been part of the mentoring program of my company for the last 2 years and this year I am working with Anne. Part of the mentoring program is shadowing each other. And since Anne is a video editor I really liked the idea to join her when she is reporting. We met with Mario, a photographer colleague of Anne in Hamburg Friday morning at the hotel Altan where I stayed and had a coffe. We then walked towards Fischmarkt. Anne and Mario had their cameras with them and I walked with them. The streets were empty and only convoys of police cars were patrolling the area.

I pretty much walked with Anne and later Mario for the whole day and tried not to be in their way. I took some pictures and videos and later spend the evening in my hotel (Hotel Altan) which is located where some of the riots took place. Here are some of the pictures:

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Broken windows. A photographer asked the girl to pose with the stone.
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Walking down to Landungsbrücken.
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Police, ambulances and a few people. Several helicopters in the air.
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Policemen and protesters talking to each other.
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After the police used their water cannons after some instant riots.
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Cleaning the roadblocks
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Schanze. Friday early evening. Around the corner from my hotel. Barricades are burning. Later everything escalated here.
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The same crossing on Saturday morning. From the other side of the street. Pieces of the pavement are missing.
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Saturday morning. The burning barricades were here.
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Saturday morning. Cleaning has started. And the car is still there.

I feel with the people who live where the riots happened. Which is most likely something journalists can do privately but will keep out of their reporting. And there are thoughts that need more time to form.

Obviously there were lots of people who were protesting against G20 peacefully and there were people who — in my impression — were only in Hamburg for violence and rioting. The lust for violence in the evening was immense and a lot of people were there to watch. From my hotel room window on the first floor I was watching too and was thinking about being a voyeur or a witness quite a lot. For nearly 90 minutes I had a video call with my wife and the twins and we were in a strange closeness and were witnessing the destruction and violence, going on in front of my room. This was one more moment where I really valued the possibilities of technology.

During the evening the lobby turned into a shelter and the girls and guys running the hotel at no time seemed stressed. I think I will stay there again.

Also I understand a bit the drive and energy of reporters and journalists to go to where the news are happening and recording and sharing them und getting the “unfiltered” version of what´s going on. I got a glimpse of how converting this into stories, reports and videos to be published or broadcasted can give a lot of energy.

Experiencing all of this makes everything so much more real than just seing the news on screen. This has changed my perception of news in the future.

Thank you Anne and Mario for taking me along. And I hope there will be future opportunities that will be less violent to learn more.

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