WATCH police pepper-spraying ‘violent hooligans’ at anti-lockdown march
Protests broke out across the German state of Saxony on Monday night, with three officers in the city of Bautzen sustaining injuries after the anti-lockdown demonstrators bombarded police with cobblestones and bottles.
The violence in Bautzen escalated when law enforcement attempted to break up a march, with approximately 600 protesters taking to the city streets to vent their anger at Covid restriction measures.
Police described 150-200 participants as “violent hooligans and people from right-wing circles.” According to authorities, officers had to use “simple physical violence” and deploy pepper spray when three protesters tried to force their way through a police cordon. One demonstrator suffered from an asthma fit as a result.
In the Saxon town of Freiberg, a total of approximately 700 anti-lockdown protesters had also gathered on Monday evening, with police at one point positioning their vehicles to form a cordon in the crowd’s path. However, a group of 100 demonstrators attempted to break through the obstacle, damaging a vehicle in the process. One person has reportedly been detained in connection with that episode. In the wake of the rally, a police spokesperson warned that there was an “increased potential for violence” among the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, around 300 people took to the streets in Dresden, where there were reports of a Swiss journalist being assaulted.
Counter-demonstrations also took place, and police inserted themselves between opposing camps to avoid a physical confrontation.
Covid-19 restrictions currently limit any outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in Saxony.
Similar protests were held in Thuringia, with a total of 17,000 people taking part across the region, and in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where 15,000 protesters turned out across 20 locations. Police also deployed pepper spray in the city of Rostock and similar gatherings were reported in Bavaria, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.
Authorities are also investigating after an individual was spotted at a march in the town of Grimma wearing a Star of David with the word “unvaccinated” inscribed on it.
Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, expressed concern over what she described as an influx of right-wing extremists. Speaking on the ZDF channel, Faeser urged anti-lockdown protesters to “ask themselves what sort of people they are going out on the streets with.”