Hundreds of people hostile to the restrictions decided to fight against Covid-19 defied the ban on demonstrations this Sunday and gathered illegally in the streets of Berlin, causing clashes with the police. Police said some protesters “harassed and attacked” officers in the Charlottenburg neighborhood in the west of the German capital and ignored roadblocks in the city.
“They tried to break the police chain. This led to the use of irritant gases, batons and physical violence, ”Berlin police tweeted, adding that several people were arrested. The protest was organized by the “Querdenker” (free thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the main critical voice against the health restrictions imposed in Germany. Justice had banned several of these events scheduled for this weekend, including that of Sunday which was to bring together some 22,500 people.
“No to the dictatorship of the corona”
The court ruled that it could not authorize the holding of these rallies for fear that participants would violate rules relating to wearing masks and social distancing, while the number of infections in Germany is on the rise. Berlin police have deployed more than 2,000 officers in riot gear across the city in anticipation of the banned protest. Some demonstrators held up placards proclaiming “Freedom” or “No to the Corona Dictatorship”, and very few masks were visible in the crowd.
The Querdenker movement brings together members of the far left, followers of conspiracy theories, detractors of vaccination as well as supporters of the far right. Their protests attract thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people. Several of these gatherings escalated into violence.