Thousands of protesters broke social distancing rules during a series of rallies on Saturday held in the streets of Berlin after a furious backlash against the German government erupted on Europe day. Thousands of angry Germans took to the streets chanting demands for freedom amid anger at the way the German Chancellor is handling the coronavirus lockdown measures.
Others chanted “We are the people!” as anger continues to build across the country at the Government’s leadership on the crisis. Berlin was overwhelmed with protests, with at least 30 separate demonstrations erupting across the German capital city. Around 1,200 people were packed into Berlin’s Alexanderplatz square for one of the unauthorized demonstrations, prompting several arrests. This violated current rules which ban gatherings of more than 50 people.
The police said the protesters had ignored calls to stay at least 5 ft. apart which had prompted officers to step in and enforce the rules. Not many people took kindly to this as it sparked violent clashed between protesters and the riot police. Footage taken during the protest revealed fights taking place as police deployed use of pepper spray and restraints on civilians. Other protests took place across Germany, with over 3,000 people in Munich and thousands in Stuttgart, The protests in Munich and Stuttgart were reported to have been much more peaceful than those seen in Berlin.
One officer was injured, and another was injured in a separate incident in front of the Reichstag building where 45 people were detained. In the western city of Dortmund, police said a man attacked a TV crew during a protest making it the third such attack in Germany in the past two weeks. Police in nearby Cologne expressed outrage that some protesters in the city urged shoppers to remove their masks when entering stores. “It seems like these people still haven’t understood that it’s not just about their health but also the lives of others,” Cologne’s police chief said.
Despite the gradual easing of Germany’s coronavirus pandemic restrictions in recent weeks, protests against them have swelled, bringing together far-right groups, C-list celebrities, and people who believe the virus is harmless or part of a global conspiracy. Germany has been relaxing restrictions since late April but leading opposition figures have claimed the response has been too slow. Chancellor Angela Merkel eased lockdown on Wednesday after consistently reporting decreasing numbers of infections.