German authorities applied water cannon and pepper apply against protesters rallying on the coronavirus lockdown in Kassel’s town. The country is facing a surge of COVID-19 infections.
Protesters attacked several members of Germany’s security forces in Kassel’s central city, authorities said on Saturday, as over 20,000 people took to the streets to decry the anti-pandemic lockdown.
“We will not tolerate such attacks,” local police said on Twitter.
“This is simply not what peaceful protests look like.”
Violent clashes between various sets of protesters were also reported.
Reporting from the scene, DW’s Benjamin Alvarez said that the rally was allowed to keep despite numerous coronavirus guidelines.
“Protests are officially over, but there are certainly a lot of people in the city center,” he said.
Live footage from the inner city showed demonstrators facing a big contingent of police in riot gear. Many protesters were chanting “Wir sind das Volk” (“We’re individuals”), a slogan obtained from the peaceful protests that generated the conclusion of communist East Germany in 1989.
Some protesters tried to break via a police barrier, and a water cannon have been used to disperse some demonstrators outside the area authorized for the rally. Police also have warned that the demonstration will soon be separated if participants won’t obey rules on wearing masks and social distancing.
Our DW correspondent also confirmed hearing that police used water cannon but said it had been due to two sets of protesters clashing away from the key rally site.
Despite lockdown restrictions, crowds were tightly packed together.
Police said they’d used mace and batons in scuffles with protesters.
DPA news agency reported that several reporters were attacked, as has frequently occurred at coronavirus denial protests, where many participants are hostile to mainstream media.
The protest has been co-organized by the Querdenken (Lateral Thinking) movement, a group behind many such demonstrations throughout the pandemic.
Experts consider the demonstrations to have considerable potential as superspreader events. One study conducted by the ZEW economic institute in Mannheim and the Humboldt University in Bonn figured two demonstrations in Leipzig and Berlin in November caused many thousands of infections.
German authorities have been considering links between the Querdenken scene and far-right elements, particularly after an episode last year. The Reichstag in Berlin was rushed by several demonstrators from a coronavirus deniers protest.
Other rallies were planned in Berlin and Munich on Saturday. In the capital, only some 500 individuals were reported to have turned up and been massively outnumbered with a 1,800-strong police contingent, based on the Associated Press.
German authorities applied water canon and pepper use against protesters rallying on the coronavirus lockdown in Kassel’s town.