(Berlin) Thousands of people hostile to the restrictions who decided to fight COVID-19 defied the ban on demonstrations on Sunday and gathered illegally on the streets of Berlin, leading to clashes with police.
Posted on Aug 1, 2021 at 10:42 am Updated at 5:27 pm
Police said some demonstrators “harassed and attacked” officials in the Charlottenburg district to the west of the German capital and ignored roadblocks in the city.
“You tried to force the police. This led to the use of irritant gases, batons and physical violence, ”tweeted the Berlin police, adding that several people were arrested.
A police spokesman said 5,000 people took part in the protest and arrested more than 600.
The protest was organized by the “lateral thinkers” movement, which has turned out to be the most important critical voice against the health restrictions imposed in Germany.
The judiciary had banned several of the demonstrations planned for this weekend, especially the one on Sunday, which was supposed to gather around 22,500 people.
The court ruled that it cannot authorize these rallies to be held for fear that attendees will violate rules on wearing masks and social distancing as infections rise in Germany.
Before the banned protest, the Berlin police deployed more than 2,000 officers in riot gear across the city.
According to the police, several thousand people gathered on Sunday, especially in the Charlottenburg district and in Berlin-Mitte.
The police threatened with water cannons in the afternoon to disperse groups on the way to the Brandenburg Gate before the demonstrators left the scene.
Some protesters held up signs saying “Freedom” or “No to the Corona dictatorship” and very few masks could be seen in the crowd.
The lateral thinker movement brings together members of the extreme left, supporters of conspiracy theories, opponents of vaccinations and supporters of the extreme right.
Their protests draw thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of people. Several of these gatherings escalated into violence.
In April, the German domestic intelligence services announced that they were monitoring members of the lateral thinkers on suspicion of links to right-wing extremism.