24.06.2022, Bayern, München: Teilnehmer einer Demonstration von Fridays for Future gehen mit Polizeibegleitung durch die Innenstadt von München. Rund 300 Teilnehmer demonstrieren im Vorfeld des G7-Gipfel auf Schloss Elmau für eine andere Klimapolitik. Foto: Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The large demonstration announced for the G7 summit in Munich on Saturday attracted far fewer participants than expected. More than two hours after the start of the event, the police spoke of around 4,000 participants, and the organizers said there were 6,000 protesters at the time.

Later, Martin Geilhufe from the co-organizing Bund Naturschutz in Bayern spoke of 7,000 people. In any case, this was only about a third of the expected number of demonstrators, because at least 20,000 people had originally been expected. Except for one incident – a scuffle between a group of the participants and emergency officials – the protest was mostly quiet.

“Of course we wanted to be more today,” said the organizer of the rally, Uwe Hiksch from the Naturefriends of Germany. However, it had been apparent for about a week and a half that the mobilization was not that strong. “We have the impression that a lot of people are unsettled by the war in Ukraine,” explained Hiksch. Especially in the red-green spectrum, which is usually mobilized for such a demo, there are currently many people who said: “Now is not the time to take a counter-position to the heads of government.”

Activists were amazed and surprised at the small number of participants at the start of the rally on the Theresienwiese. “We are disappointed,” said 46-year-old Andrea from Greenpeace in Hanover. It seems as if only organizations are on site – but no one from the population.

The 50-year-old Thorben Becker from Berlin, who had traveled to Bavaria for the Association for the Environment and Nature Conservation, made a similar statement. He would have hoped for more demonstrators, but there is currently not one exciting topic like TTIP or Trump that can mobilize people. The war in Ukraine is bad and affects many people, but one senses that politicians are making serious efforts, he said.

The demo took place one day before the start of the summit in Elmau. 15 anti-globalisation associations from Attac to the environmental organization WWF had called. The rally had four focal points: phasing out fossil fuels, preserving animal and plant diversity, social justice on the planet and fighting hunger. “Climate crisis, species extinction, inequality: the G7 countries are responsible for the fact that the global social and ecological crises are becoming ever more dramatic. Stop it. Fair is different,” it said in the call for participation.

According to official information, the Munich police deployed around 3,000 emergency services at the protest meeting. It had been feared that a so-called black bloc could cause unrest. Ultimately, around 100 to 150 people were assigned to this spectrum by the police. Originally, the security circles had expected significantly more participants. It had already been said in advance that mobilization was not as strong as it was at the G7 summit seven years ago.

According to the police, after the protest march through the state capital, there was an arrest towards the end of the meeting in the Theresienwiese area and as a result there was a brief confrontation between some demonstrators and emergency services. Police spokesman Andreas Franken reported on a solidarity campaign by the “black block”. Batons were also used.

Two officers were slightly injured, police said. However, the situation calmed down fairly quickly. The reason for the arrest of one participant was initially unclear. Overall, the police drew a positive conclusion from the demonstration. “The gathering was completely peaceful,” said a spokesman.

A spokeswoman for the protest alliance “Stop G7 Elmau” condemned “the violent actions of the police” on Saturday. Several people were arrested and injured by officers. “The police action was unjustified, but not surprising,” said the spokeswoman.