Despite rising numbers of infections, thousands of people in Berlin protested against government measures to curb the corona pandemic on Saturday. According to police estimates, up to 17,000 people joined a demonstration train, and around 20,000 subsequently took part in a rally. The demonstrators called for an end to all restrictions.
Since the hygiene rules were not observed during the demonstration, the police filed a criminal complaint against the head of the assembly. The declared the demonstration train ended in the afternoon. Because many demonstrators neither adhered to the distance rules nor wore masks at the rally that followed, the police began to dissolve the gathering in the early evening. The organizers are unable to comply with the hygiene measures, said a police spokesman.
“The End of the Pandemic – Freedom Day”
The “Thinking Outside 711” initiative called for the demonstration under the motto “The End of the Pandemic – Freedom Day”. This initiative has been demonstrated repeatedly in Stuttgart. Critics of these protests fear confiscation by conspiracy theorists and right-wing populists. A propaganda film by Nazi icon Leni Riefenstahl about the party congress of the NSDAP in 1935 also bears the title “Freedom Day”.
Michael Ballweg, founder of the initiative, said at the start of the rally with the cheers of the participants: “The freedom virus has reached Berlin.” Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), on the other hand, wrote on Twitter: “Yes, demonstrations must also be possible in Corona times. But not like that. ”Distance, hygiene rules and everyday masks served to protect everyone.
The SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken wrote on Twitter: “Thousands of covidios celebrate themselves in Berlin as” the second wave “, without a gap, without a mask.” This would also endanger successes in the fight against the pandemic, such as the revival of the economy, education and society . The Italian EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni tweeted that such an idea of freedom is not to be laughed at. “This is scary.”
Confusing situation in the evening
In the evening the situation in Berlin was still confusing. The police declared the rally over, from the stage a policeman called on the participants to go home several times. He was repeatedly interrupted by loud boos. The participants were later informed that they had committed an administrative offense.
Many demonstrators migrated or spread out in the meadows of the adjacent zoo. In the meantime, around 3,000 gathered in front of the nearby Reichstag and at the Federal Chancellery. In front of the stage of the rally, there was still a hard core of participants, against which the police acted in small groups from both sides. Demonstrators were approached, but also taken away or carried away.
During the demonstration, which lasted several hours, the emergency services initially proceeded with loudspeaker announcements or individual speeches. “In addition, violations are documented, so that the prosecution of violations is also possible afterwards,” announced the police. When the demonstration was declared over, the train had already reached its destination near the Brandenburg Gate.
No major incidents until evening
The police assumed “at the top” of about 17,000 participants in the protest train. “We cannot confirm an exorbitantly higher number, which according to various tweets we have named,” she explained. Organizers initially announced 500,000 participants and registered 10,000 for the demonstration. In the afternoon, 800,000 and then 1.3 million people spoke on the rally stage.
In spite of information from the police and organizers, hardly any people with mouth-nose protection were seen on the protest procession through large parts of Berlin-Mitte. Passers-by with appropriate protection were called “Masks away” by the demonstrators.
Counter-demonstrators under the motto “Grandmas against the right”
There were no major incidents at first. In several places, protest trains and counter-demonstrators were shielded by police units, in one place several hundred people demonstrated against the protest march.
Counter-demonstrators under the motto “Grandmas against the right” shouted “Nazis out” to the train, the saying echoed back.
The demonstrators showed signs and flags of various federal states. The people made their displeasure with the whistles and calls for “freedom” or “resistance” air. Slogans such as “The biggest conspiracy theory is the corona pandemic” were also heard. (dpa)