18 police officers were injured during the demonstration of opponents of governmental coronavirus regulations in Berlin. Three of them had to be treated in hospital, according to police on Twitter. Despite rising infection numbers, thousands of people had protested on Saturday against the measures taken by the federal government to contain the coronavirus pandemic. According to police estimates, up to 17,000 people joined a demonstration march, and around 20,000 subsequently took part in the rally, which was held under the motto “The end of the pandemic – Freedom Day at the Victory Column”. A total of 1,100 officers were on duty.
Because many demonstrators neither observed the rules of distance nor wore masks, the police began to disperse the gathering in the early evening. Nevertheless, many people continued to move towards the Brandenburg Gate and Strasse des 17. “We want freedom” and “We stay here”, the participants chanted and sat down on the ground at the Siegessäule as a sign of protest. Access to the area from the Brandenburg Gate was difficult for participants because of the large crowd, many people only reached the rally site by taking a detour through the Tiergarten.[“The demonstration was mobilized nationwide, participants travelled by bus. Neo-Nazi organizations had also called for participation, said Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD). Right-wing symbols, such as the Reich flag, had also been openly displayed at several points of the demonstration. Numerous counter-demonstrators gathered in the center and other areas. “]
In Stuttgart, the Querdenken 711 initiative has already demonstrated repeatedly. Critics of these protests fear that they could be appropriated by conspiracy believers and right-wing populists. The trade union ver.di spoke of a right-wing extremist alliance. An event by conspiracy believer Attila Hildmann, also scheduled for Saturday, had been banned in advance, among other things because of accusations of sedition. It was the second ban of a Hildmann rally in a row.[“Editor’s note: In an earlier version it was said that the 18 police officers were injured in the dissolution of the rally. In fact, however, the number refers to the entire demonstration. The German Press Agency (dpa) has corrected its information.”]
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