Hamburg, Germany. It may look like a scene from the popular AMC TV show The Walking Dead, but it’s anything but. In fact, this horde of shuffling zombies are actually part of widespread protests that threaten to spill into violence.
The reason for the unrest and disobedience? Well, Hamburg is hosting the G20 summits this week. A huge meeting of heads of state, the summits usually attract protests against various leaders and their controversial policies. Often, protesters are unhappy at their own country’s indifference to perceived issues in policy.
But this protest has something a little different. That’s right… Zombies. It’s a performance piece set up by ‘The 1,000 Gestalten’ (or ‘The 1,000 figures’), a collective who organized a thousand actors to descend upon city center at once on Wednesday. All covered in clay.
A 1,000 Gestalten spokesman said the following in a statement released to the press:
“We cannot wait until change happens from the world’s most powerful, we have to show political and social responsibility – all of us – now! Our campaign is a further symbol for the fact that many people do not want to put up with the destructive impact of capitalism any longer. What will save us in the end is not our account balance but someone who will offer their holding hand.”
“The main issue is that the summit is again, after Brisbane, in a democracy,” said Wolfgang Schmidt, a politician from the city who has been heavily involved in preparations for the summit.
“You want to make sure that protest and dissenting views are heard, but you also need to maintain security, and with 42 highly protected heads of state and finance and foreign ministers, it’s a challenge.”
Many fear that the German authorities will react to protests in an overly strict manner, but there’s no escaping that security needs to be very tight, given the names on the guest list. Protesters have every right to make their point and have their voices heard, but given the threat of terrorism around the summit, those who take their protests too far will surely find themselves at odds with the riot squad.
Climate change, war, freedom of speech, a free press, human rights… These are all topics that the protesters take issue with. And with figures like US President Donald Trump and President Erdogan from Turkey at the G20, it’s not surprising that people have taken to the streets.
“No demonstrator can decide whether or where heads of state and government meet in Germany on the chancellor’s invitation,” Thomas de Maiziere, the German interior minister said yesterday.
But the German government’s words and appeals for calm can only go so far. Will the protests continue at a sensible level? Or is Hamburg facing a disastrous few days of rioting and violence? Only time will tell.