German police have arrested at least 40 people in Berlin at a radical left march while dozens of right-wing activists squared off with police in the central state of Thuringia. Police used pepper spray to disperse protesters who hurled fireworks and bottles.
A left-wing march in Berlin’s Kreuzberg quarter, dubbed the “Revolutionary May 1 Demonstration,” drew some 8,000 activists on Monday, according to police. Authorities estimate that some 300 of them planned to incite violence at the demonstration.
Despite the massive police deployment, numbering some 5,400 officers that flanked the protesters, the rally soon turned violent, with bottles, flares, and smoke grenades being thrown by the activists.
A large number of black-hooded demonstrators attacked officers with flagpoles and police responded by squirting pepper spray. Police arrested some of the participants of the unauthorized rally, dragging them across the ground, footage from Eyes On Events’s Ruptly video agency shows.
Overall, 40 people were detained, according to Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt.
While there were no reports of injuries among the demonstrators, Berlin police said on Twitter that several officers suffered injuries as result of the fracas.
In addition, Berlin city lawmaker Tom Shreiber said he was attacked during the rally, claiming he was “specifically” targeted, according to DPA. He said one of the activists attempted to attack him with a bottle while another threatened to beat him.
A brief altercation involving police also took place at a so-called “citizen festival” organized by the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in Berlin’s Pankow borough, which could have been disrupted by a 500-strong counter-demonstration near the AfD event.
However, police encircled the scene with a human chain and sealed the perimeter with police vans. Protesters at the counter protest were shouting “Nazis out" and other slogans. Two women tried to break through the cordons and one of them was detained by police.
Another incident saw an attempt to sprinkle AfD supporters with ketchup, though, without success, according to the Berlin Morgenpost.
Meanwhile, some 14,000 people took to Berlin’s streets for a German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) rally chanting “We are many, we are one!”
The activists rallied for comprehensive social insurance for all and against temporary employment contracts, which DGB’s deputy chairman Elke Hannack described as “temporary madness,” as cited by the Berliner Morgenpost.
Overall, some 200,000 people took part in the May Day festivities in Berlin.
In Hamburg, over 2,000 people hit streets as part of the “Revolutionary May 1 Demonstration,” similar to the one in Berlin. Unlike in the event in the German capital, the rally proceeded peacefully and was incident free.
The city of Halle in the state of Saxony-Anhalt saw rival rallies by right-wing activists and anti-fascist groups, with the left leaning crowd vastly outnumbering the right.
According to police, some 500 supporters of the far-right Die Rechte (“The Right”) party came to Halle, while the rival demonstration mobilised under the slogan “Halle against the right – union for civil courage,” attracting several thousand marchers.
A large police contingent was dispatched to prevent potential clashes between the two groups.
As the tension grew, left-wing demonstrators clashed with police, who used pepper spray and batons in an attempt to quell the crowd and deter further violence. Five police officers and several protesters were injured.
Most of Monday’s arrests was in the city of Apolda, located in the central German state of Thuringia, where some 150 right-wing demonstrators, reportedly returning from the rally in Halle, faced off with police after getting off the train.
Police broke up the crowd after the activists refused to disperse and resisted officers with fireworks and rocks. Some 100 were detained on the spot for breaching public order, DPA reported.