Thousands of demonstrators packed a German Alpine resort town on Saturday to protest a wide range of causes, from climate change to free trade, before the arrival of the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies for a two-day summit.
Though the demonstration in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was largely peaceful, a small group of protesters clashed with police as they marched through the town, charging at officers who responded with pepper spray. At least two protesters had to be taken away by medics for treatment. Police said one officer was also injured by the pepper spray; there were no arrests.
During the demonstration, black-clad anarchists chanted slogans against police violence, anti-capitalists held signs denouncing a proposed trans-Atlantic trade deal, and peace protesters waved rainbow flags and signs with anti-war slogans.
Protester Monika Lambert said she had come "to exercise my democratic rights to say that everything the G-7 decides is in the interest of the banks and capitalists."
Lambert, from the Bavarian city of Erlangen, said Germany's history has shown that it is important to speak out.
"I asked my parents what they did during the Nazi period and they did nothing," she said. "I don't want to tell my children and grandchildren the same thing."
About 2,000 protesters marched to the train station from their camp on the outskirts of town for the noontime demonstration and were joined by thousands of others, including many families and children.
Bavarian Michael Wildmoser carried a sign with communist slogans.
"Too many young people are being exploited in low-paid jobs," he said. "This situation can't go on."
Police had 22,000 officers from around Germany on hand, keeping tight control on the demonstrations. Spokesman Hans-Peter Kammerer said significant numbers of extremists from Germany, Austria, Italy and Britain were among the crowd.
One group of about 30 protesters dressed as clowns, taunting police by getting up close and personal, dusting their boots with feather dusters, pretending to listen in on their conversations and making sexual innuendos.
A group of six clowns sat in the middle of the street, blocking the road and forcing a police van carrying reinforcements to turn back.
Protesters' spokesman Simon Ernst, who was part of the group that camped overnight outside town, said they wanted to show their anger at the leaders of Germany, France, the U.S., Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan, calling them "the henchmen of bankers and corporations."
Police planned to keep all demonstrators away from the summit venue, the Schloss Elmau hotel in a tiny village about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
A court initially ruled that up to 50 protesters should be allowed inside the security zone Sunday so that the world leaders would be able to hear them.
On Saturday, however, Bavaria's administrative court revoked permission for that demonstration. The court said organizers had refused to have participants transported to the site in police vehicles and insisted on marching, but it ruled that would pose too great a security risk, the news agency dpa reported.
The summit runs Sunday through Monday.