About 1,000 people took to the streets of Germany‘s capital on May Day to illegally vent their fury over strict social coronavirus distancing rules in place in the city. The stringent measures have been enforced since mid-March, with pressure groups growing weary of the restrictions on their personal freedoms. Centred in the city’s bohemian Kreuzberg district, the left-wing protests came on Labour Day, an annual holiday for workers’ rights.
Leftist groups called for the protests to denounce capitalism and call for greater solidarity with refugees seeking to reach Europe, Aljazeera reported.
Police blocked roads around the main square in order to preempt the notorious violent clashes of previous years’ demonstrations and to prevent more people joining what a police spokeswoman said were illegal gatherings.
She said: “We have prevented the parade from growing bigger and are using loudspeakers to urge people to disperse.”
Despite claims from police the gatherings had remained largely peaceful, video footage broadcast on Russia Today’s YouTube channel showed violent skirmishes erupt between demonstrators and law enforcement.
The footage showed police dragging protestors away and masked men waving flares from the balconies of buildings.
German news outlet DW also reported there was at least one outbreak of violence, with a camera crew working for German broadcaster ZDF suffering a brutal attack in the centre of the city.
According to the DW, police said the apparently unprovoked attack was launched by a group of seven people. But the number was later revised to 15.
A total of six people have been arrested, police said.
They added the reason for the attack was not immediately clear.
ZDF’s program director Norbert Himmler said: “Freedom of the press, especially now, is especially valuable.
“Our first concern in this instance, however, is with the team members and their health.”
The first of May, Germany’s national holiday for workers’ rights, is typically marked by public festivities, loud protests and crowded streets.
But this year the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly curbed the celebrations.
More to follow…