Rabat – Berlin police have dispersed a protest against German COVID-19 policies that drew thousands on Saturday. Demonstrators failed to maintain a safe distance and many refused to wear masks, prompting several arrests. Protesters scuffled with police and flaunted safety precautions as they carried signs demanding “freedom” and “personal responsibility.”
A total of 18,000 protesters took part in the anti-government protests, according to police sources. German police officers had cautioned that they would bring an end to the protest if participants ignored basic safety measures. Local officials had previously attempted to block the protest altogether, but German courts decided to allow the protest permit to be issued.
German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that protesters blamed the police for the crowded circumstances at the protest. Protestors accused the police of corralling them into ever tighter spaces as crowds grew. However, local authorities referred to the absence of masks as a factor for the decision to disperse the large crowd.
Police told Der Spiegel that a large group of protesters had pelted officers with stones and bottles in the iconic Unter Den Linden boulevard in central Berlin. The violence towards police prompted officials to arrest two people using pepper spray.
Europe is seeing growing resistance to COVID-19 measures. Conspiracy theories, online misinformation, and anti-establishment sentiment have fueled opposition to government precautions.
The protests in Berlin saw banners demanding the German government step down over its COVID-19 policies. Banners read “End the Corona Dictatorship” as the crowd chanted “resistance” and “ we are the people.”
Germany’s government in Berlin managed to keep its infection rate low in the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Europe. Since then, the country’s right-wing and misinformed citizens have resisted adhering to safety precautions. Germany again recorded 1,571 new cases on Friday as it appears Europe will see a second wave of COVID-19 infections.