Berlin Dissolve Coronavirus Protest with Water Cannons

The Berlin police on Wednesday dissolved a demonstration of thousands of nonconformists protesting at the Brandenburg Gate against coronavirus restrictions and the approval of a new national law to fight pandemics with water cannon and pepper spray. Due to the fact that the vast majority of the attendees neither wore masks nor kept the required physical safety distance between them, the police in the German capital had shortly concluded the protest and ordered the attendees to disband. The president of the Berlin police, Barbara Slowik, had already warned in the early hours of the morning that she would enforce with all the means at her disposal compliance with the rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “We will do everything possible not to allow assemblies without the use of masks,” said Slowik, who commented that the agents in charge of monitoring the demonstration were ordered to intervene immediately and dissolve it if the mandatory hygiene regulations were not observed.

“The demonstration in the street of June 17 was ended by the organizer of the assembly at 12:06 pm”, reported the police in a tweet, but as the attendees ignored the order to disband “we have made use of trucks with water cannons, “added the message. The press department of the police stressed that the anti-riot forces were repeatedly attacked by a section of the protesters. “Our colleagues have been attacked with bottles, stones and firecrackers, as well as with pepper spray”, highlighted another tweet in which arrests were announced without quantifying their number. Several journalists covering the protest were also attacked by participants in the demonstration, while the parliamentary headquarters of the large public television stations near the place were preventively guarded by a large police force.

The chief of police in the German capital stressed that she would not allow images such as those of last August before the Reichstag, the historic German parliament that was about to be assaulted by far-rightists participating in a protest against the coronavirus, nor the most recent of Leipzig, a city in which thousands of nonconformists continued their protest and marched without masks through the city, after the local police ordered its dissolution, but without actually imposing that order by force. For this reason, the federal Ministry of the Interior prohibited this Wednesday several calls for nonconformists before the Reichstag, strongly protected by a police cordon and where this morning was approved with the votes of the great coalition of conservatives and social democrats and the support of the green opposition a new revised and more severe version of the law to protect the population against infections, which gives more power to the authorities to fight a pandemic.

More than 2,000 riot police, with reinforcements from nine federal states and agents of the Federal Police were in charge of controlling the demonstration in the heart of the German capital. The Police Union (GdP) had in advance a complicated mission for officials. Past demonstrations in other cities have also shown how the situation is escalating and that agents can quickly become powerless, said Benjamin Jendro, spokesman for the GdP, who commented that the big problem is that very disparate groups participate in these protests. “This means that not all right-wing extremists are joining the calls, but also people with existential fears,” said Jendro, who commented that even children and the elderly attend. Protests are frequently dominated by elements of the extreme right and members of nonconformist organizations that in many cases seek to undermine the rule of law. In Berlin, many supporters of the neo-Nazi German National Democratic Party (NPD) and supporters of the ultra-nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) could be seen among the protesters on Wednesday.

The new legislation for the fight against pandemics is intended to provide a legal basis for the regulations and restrictions issued to combat the coronavirus and future pandemics and to prevent these rules and precepts from being overthrown, as has happened on several occasions, by the courts. administrative due to the lack of precise provisions. From the use of masks to the obligation to keep physical distance, but also the closure of shops, bars, gastronomic establishments, cultural and sports centers, all these rules and prohibitions have since this Wednesday a legal basis when there is «an epidemic situation of national scope ”, according to the text approved, first by the Bundestag and then and by emergency procedure by the Bundesrat, the German upper house, so that the federal president, Frank Walter Steinmeier, could sign it before the end of the day.

Several deputies reported intimidation attempts by protesters outside but also inside the Reichstag. The liberal Konstantin Kuhle denounced that “the AfD has brought people into the building who intimidate the deputies and plant their mobile cameras in their faces.” And the vice president of the social democratic parliamentary group, Katja Mast, pointed out that “people who have sneaked into parliament with the help of the AfD have tried to raid the offices of the deputies”


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