Defiant Berliners take to streets, clash with police in violent anti-lockdown protests

Hundreds of demonstrators were detained by police in Germany on Sunday as anti-lockdown protests spiraled into chaotic scenes of violent confrontations.

Fed-up protesters marched from the Charlottenburg neighborhood in Berlin to the Brandenburg Gate in defiance of a ban on gatherings due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic. Anti-lockdown demonstrators, including the Stuttgart-based “Querdenker” group, took to the streets to voice their frustration with the country’s COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine passport requirements.

Videos of the scenes in Berlin showed police using pepper spray and aggressively confronting protesters with German media reporting that about 600 people had been detained, according to the Associated Press. Berlin’s police department, meanwhile, which reported that more than 2,000 officers were deployed, said many of them were “harassed and attacked” by the large groups of demonstrators.

“They tried to break through the police cordon and pull out our colleagues,” Berlin police reportedly said.


(Video: Ruptly/YouTube)

Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters demonstrated over the weekend despite a ban by a German court on over a dozen planned marches and events, with one rally reportedly having 22,500 people registered to attend, according to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The bans came as police cited the fact that many protesters would refuse to wear masks and concerns over Germany’s main anti-lockdown group, the Querdenker movement. The lockdown protests, according to the Berlin-Brandeburg upper court, were characterized “by the fact that the participants used them to violate legal norms created to contain the risk of infection in a way that attracted public attention, in particular by disregarding the social distance requirement and the mask requirement.”

But demonstrators flooded the streets anyway, leading to often violent clashes with police who were seen shoving, grabbing, and shouting at protesters.

One video showed what appeared to be a young boy being struck by an officer.

Germany enacted even stricter controls over those attempting to enter the country as concerns grow over the delta variant of the virus.

According to Associated Press:

Germany eased many of its coronavirus restrictions in May, including reopening restaurants and bars. Still, many activities, such as dining indoors at restaurants or staying in a hotel, require proof that an individual is either fully vaccinated, has recovered from the virus or can show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.

Although the number of new coronavirus cases in Germany remains low compared with neighboring countries, the delta variant has sparked an increase in new infections in the last few weeks. On Sunday, Germany reported 2,097 new cases, an increase of more than 500 over the previous Sunday.

 

Critics of the ban on the weekend’s protests called out the hypocrisy by noting how an LGBTQ Pride parade that included about 35,000 people was allowed to take place last weekend with no restrictions.

In a separate report on Monday, it was noted that a 49-year-old man who had been detained by police on Sunday was taken to a hospital where he later died. As police checked his identification, he had allegedly told them that he felt a tingling in his arm and chest, Euro News reported.

Frieda Powers

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