Violence broke out on Saturday in Leipzig, eastern Germany, following protests against restrictions related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local police reported.
“There were numerous attacks against the law enforcers,” police in the State of Saxony said in a tweet.
Media footage showed projectiles being thrown at police toward the end of the demonstration, in which, according to the police, about 20,000 people took part. Police also said on Twitter that they were pelted with “objects” and “fireworks” and that demonstrators had broken through one of their cordons near Leipzig’s central train station.
Organisers of the protest called for “the immediate lifting of restrictions to basic rights” in connection with measures taken to stem the spread of against COVID-19. During the demonstration, police, present in large numbers, intervened on many occasions with loud-speakers to call on demonstrators to wear facemasks and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from one another, AFP noted.
Towards the end of the afternoon, police ordered the demonstrators to disperse.
Flags of the German Reich -in memory of the empire that disappeared after World War I – were waved by people in the crowd, according to the MDR regional public channel. Media reports mentioned the presence of neo-Nazi militants among the troublemakers.
Saxony, the regional state of which Leipzig is a part, is considered a stronghold of the extreme right, which has been obtaining its best electoral results in recent years in the region.
The German authorities have been keeping an eye on these movements since late August, when about 100 demonstrators forced security barricades, and climbed onto the steps of the Reichstag, where the Chamber of Deputies, Bundestag, sits.