SSudden elevators, encircled demonstrators: In Leipzig, the police have deployed a large contingent to keep critics of the Corona measures and counter-demonstrators away from each other. Hundreds of people came together on Saturday for a rally by opponents of the Corona policy, which was then canceled at short notice. In the city center, the opposing camps met again and again, as the police announced on Twitter. At times the situation was confusing.
“Approved meetings were peaceful and calm. But then a dynamic situation developed in several places in the city center, ”said police spokesman Olaf Hoppe. That was a difficult situation for the police. However, by the evening the situation had calmed down.
According to the police, there were also isolated attacks on emergency services in the form of stones. A final balance will probably only be possible on Sunday, the spokesman said. However, there were crimes, especially in the area of bodily harm.
As can be seen on video recordings by WELT reporter Martin Heller, the police had difficulty separating Antifa demonstrators, right-wing groups and opponents of the Corona measures. There was scuffle. The police used irritant gas.
Leipzig’s Lord Mayor Burkhard Jung spoke of a “cat and mouse game”. The SPD politician spoke of a completely different situation than in the Leipzig “lateral thinking” demonstration two weeks ago, which had gotten out of hand, and a well-coordinated strategy between the police and the assembly authorities.
The announced rally by critics of the Corona policy was surprisingly canceled in the afternoon, although hundreds of people were already there. The meeting leader of the rally withdrew his registration after the assembly authorities had not accepted his “incomplete mask release certificate”, according to police. The police had previously cordoned off access because the space had reached its maximum capacity with 500 people.
At the same time there were major counter-protests. The action network “Leipzig takes place”, which had registered rallies at three central locations in the city, spoke to up to 4,000 participants over the day. After the cancellation of the corona demonstration, various groups spread out in the city center.
Police brought water cannons into position
The police were on duty with officials from several federal states, they had set up water cannons and clearing tanks. In the afternoon, a police helicopter also circled over the city. The officials also used barriers.
In the early evening there were unsanctioned spontaneous meetings. According to the police spokesman, several hundred opponents of the Corona policy took part in the area of the market and Große Fleischergasse as well as Windmühlenstraße. According to the police, counter-demonstrators gathered in the adjacent streets. “Our colleagues separate these & prevent such a meeting,” said the police on Twitter. After observing a DPA photographer, the police also used pepper spray.
Later, the police finally had the encircled participants withdrawn to the train station in small groups – masks were only worn sporadically. In view of the counter-demonstrators in the adjacent streets, the police finally paved a way, said the police spokesman. Left-wing MPs criticized Twitter for not establishing their identity. The police spokesman said there had been identity checks.
“Very confusing situation”
According to a dpa reporter on site, a spontaneous anti-fascist demonstration with around 200 participants took place in the city center in the afternoon. Another gathering of the left-wing camp near the Thomaskirche was surrounded by the police shortly afterwards.
Police spokesman Hoppe spoke of a “very confusing” situation in the city at times. “An attempt was made from the autonomous scene to enter into a physical confrontation with the opponent,” he said. The other side tried to push through an elevator. There were crowds of people in various places. “However, no meeting was approved,” said the spokesman.
According to Lord Mayor Jung, there were also “travel movements” from Thuringia to the rally by opponents of the Corona measures that was canceled. According to the politician, several right-wing extremists, including hooligans and supporters of comradeships, had gathered at the main station. Half of them left again. The Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution had already reported in advance that there was mobilization in both right-wing and left-wing extremist camps.
According to preliminary police information, two people were arrested on Saturday evening in the vicinity of the demonstrations in Leipzig. In the city area, 18 crimes were also found during the operation, according to the Leipzig police department. It is about bodily harm and breaches of the peace. Nine suspects have been identified. The police initially did not provide any further information.
44 reprimands were issued and 113 advertisements were made for violations of the Saxon Corona Protection Ordinance. According to the police, after an attack on a journalist, a complaint was made ex officio against unknown persons. One officer was slightly injured during the operation.
Two weeks earlier, a “lateral thinking” demonstration in Leipzig had caused anger and heated political debates. At least 20,000 people from all over Germany came to Leipzig to protest against the corona restrictions. Hardly anyone adhered to the mask requirement.
The city broke up the rally. After that, people forced a walk across the Leipziger Ring. The police tried to stop her but eventually let her go. The rally that was finally canceled this Saturday had not been registered by “lateral thinking”.
Opponents of the corona measures took to the streets in several other German cities on Saturday. There were several hundred each in Hanover, Bochum, Göppingen and Pforzheim. More than 900 people took part in a “lateral thinking” rally in the capital of Lower Saxony, and more than 300 took part in counter rallies. In the area of the “lateral thinker” demo, pyrotechnics were set off, presumably by opponents, but police officers kept the situation under control. In Berlin, several thousand opponents of the corona policy from the federal and state governments want to take to the streets again this Sunday.