Hamburg to hold free concert to thank G20 police officers

Policemen secure the area around the Elbphilharmonie concert hall on July 7.

(CNN)The Hamburg concert hall that hosted Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, and Vladimir Putin last week will open its doors for free on Thursday to some of the 20,000 German police officers who were deployed during the G20 summit.

All 2,000 seats in the Elbphilharmonie will be taken by police officers from the region and their partners for a concert featuring pianist Sebastian Knauer and other performers.
According to Hamburg Police, 476 officers were injured during the three days of rallies and riots, when thousands of protesters converged on the summit of world leaders to demonstrate against capitalism and demand action on key issues including climate change and migrants' rights.
    The concert "is a marvellous signal of recognition and respect for the extremely tough service the police had to through during the G20 summit," protest organizer Nicholas Hill from the 'Hamburg zeigt Haltung' (Hamburg shows attitude) march told CNN in an email.
    "And it shows the attitude of the real Hamburg: a true, peaceful and solidarity city."

    A 'symbol of gratitude'

    A petition was launched Saturday calling for the Elbphilharmonie to put on a "special concert" for the police deployed during the summit. Regional newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt is now organizing the event.
    Many of the anti-G20 protests were peaceful, but some demonstrators turned to violence.
    A back-page photograph of some of the police deployed in Hamburg with the headline "Danke" (Thank you) in Monday's edition prompted hundreds of emails and phone calls from locals and foreigners alike offering thanks and support, according to a spokesperson for the newspaper.
    A Hamburg department store is offering police a 20% discount on all goods, while hotels and restaurants around the city have announced free accommodation and special offers. Officers can enjoy a free visit to a local driving range, a zoo, a tropical aquarium and the Hamburg dungeon.
    The Elbphilhamronie announced news of Thursday's concert via social media, tweeting an image of Hamburg with the word "Respekt!"
    But not everyone is happy about the event. "This concert is an unbearable audacity for all those who experienced severe police brutality during last week's protests," Nico Berg, the organizer of the Block G20 protest, told CNN in an email Tuesday.
    "Such gestures hide the fact that the police risked people's lives in their operation during the 'Welcome to Hell' protest on Thursday. It disregards the fact that dozens of people were seriously injured."
    Hamburg Police told CNN on Saturday that a full assessment of the overall police response at the anti-G20 demonstrations would come at a later time.

    Left has been 'tarnished'

    The announcement follows several days of intense debate in Germany. Many politicians and journalists have criticized the police operation and suggested that Hamburg was not prepared for the scale of the protests.
    The regional branch of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party in Hamburg has called for the city's mayor Olaf Scholz to resign in the wake of the riots, according to CNN affiliate NTV.
    On Monday, Merkel promised funding for 15,000 more police officers if her party is re-elected in September's federal election, while another senior CDU politician has called for the launch of a European database to monitor violent left-wing extremists, according to NTV.
    Prominent left-wing politicians have condemned the violence of protesters last weekend, while urging against knee-jerk responses to the demonstrations.
    The violence used by some demonstrators and the extensive and often graphic media coverage have "tarnished the image of the left," Hartwig Pautz, lecturer in social science at the University of the West of Scotland, told CNN.
    "This violence is neither justified nor can it serve the objective of a radical critique of the conditions of society," Pautz said.
    Instead, Pautz said that the violence and the "media frenzy" it aroused have silenced legitimate criticisms of the G20 and of the police -- and that politicians on the left have been forced to distance themselves from the issues that the non-violent protesters were demonstrating about.
    Riot police and demonstrators clash during the "Welcome to Hell" rally last Thursday.
    And while Hamburg Police have released regular updates on the number of injured officers and detained protesters, the number of injured protesters is much less clear.
    CNN's reporters in Hamburg saw that many protest groups had self-organized paramedics and did not send injured demonstrators to hospital.
    Some protesters from groups such as the Black Bloc wore masks to conceal their identity and were unlikely to attend a hospital unless their injuries were severe.
    Medical spokesperson Franz Jurgen Schell from the Asklepios clinic in Hamburg told CNN on Tuesday that they had taken in 100 patients with injuries relating to the summit. But he could not confirm how many of these were police officers and how many were protesters.