The police drive demonstrators to the G7 meeting place at Schloss Elmau. But activists criticize the mini demo in the Alpine idyll as a “farce”. Elsewhere, too, the police are in large numbers.

The sun was burning down from the sky, demonstrators and police were sweating, there was hardly anything to be seen from Elmau Castle – and there was nothing to be heard either. On Monday, the police transported 50 activists near the G7 conference hotel of the powerful.

On site, the demonstrators wanted to vent their displeasure with the summit. But the police would not let the protesters get closer than 500 meters to the castle. Authorities said it was too dangerous. The activists criticized the event as “degrading”. Six people were provisionally arrested.

For the group of G7 critics, it was particularly important to be within “calling and visual range” of the palace near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where the heads of state and government of the most powerful industrial nations meet. They had lodged a complaint against an order from the District Office before the Munich Administrative Court, then before the Administrative Court and finally before the Federal Constitutional Court. They wanted to get 200 meters closer to the castle. But in vain, they failed with the request.

“Degrading for democracy”

“500 meters away – you can see the castle and there is nothing else there,” criticized organizer Franz Haslbeck. “It was in a completely dead corner, in the trickle by the stones. It was absolutely degrading for democracy, it was a farce beyond compare.” The decisive “call and sight range” to the castle had been “stolen” from them.

The courts justified the refusal with security concerns that the Free State of Bavaria had expressed. It was “not appropriate (…) to allow an even closer proximity to the event location within the high-security area at the price of a further tightening of the security situation,” said the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court.

After the short demo, the police took several participants away because they had blocked the escape routes. Therefore, the sit-in had to be broken up, said police spokeswoman Carolin Englert. Until then, the demonstration had been peaceful. The police must ensure that the G7 meeting can take place undisturbed, she defended the huge police presence. Investigations are underway against six demonstrators on suspicion of coercion or attempted coercion.

Barriers, cordoned off zones

The way of the small column was lined with barriers. They were not allowed to walk in the cordoned off zone at the castle. The activists had criticized that. It is not compatible with the right of assembly. Still, they decided to take the opportunity.

In 2015, G7 critics fought for the right to hold a rally near the hotel before the Munich Administrative Court. A maximum of 50 activists were allowed to demonstrate within sight and hearing of the meeting of heads of state and government in Elmau. However, the rally did not take place at the time: the opponents had demanded that they walk to the castle themselves and not be taken in police cars.

Constant accompaniment by the police

Now there was also a “star march” of hikers and cyclists, which was also accompanied by police officers. They marched with about 100 demonstrators in the sweltering heat. The mountain rescue service was there and set up supply stations with water. “Sweltering weather, the sun is setting, that’s a certain challenge,” said mountain rescue spokesman Roland Ampenberger. A thunderstorm blew up in the afternoon.

The fellow marchers were nonetheless in good spirits. “We are now living in a time of mankind’s greatest challenge, the climate catastrophe,” said Dominik from Middle Franconia. To fight for his concerns – “I also like to sweat for that”. That is nothing in contrast to what people in the “global south” are suffering from.