Evening clashes mar otherwise calm Labour Day in Berlin
Sunday, 02 May 2021
Clashes broke out on Saturday evening in Berlin on the margins of a Labour Day rally that police broke up after stones and bottles were thrown at them, according to local law enforcers.
The clashes between members of “Black Bloc”, a violent extreme-left group, and the police, started in the early evening, mainly when security forces evacuated some of the activists from the rally, according to a reporter from French news agency AFP.
The Berlin police then announced in a tweet that they would use a water cannon to put out fires on wood pallets and other objects in the street and “prevent them from spreading to surrounding vehicles.”
In #Neukölln werden wir jetzt unseren Wasserwerfer einsetzen, um gefahrlos brennende Hindernisse auf der Fahrbahn zu löschen und ein Übergreifen auf umstehende Autos zu verhindern.#b0105
— Polizei Berlin Einsatz (@PolizeiBerlin_E) May 1, 2021
Police also used teargas to disperse the group and made many arrests, according to local media, which reported, however, that calm was returning to the area just before 10:00 PM local time.
The demonstrators, whose watchword was “Revolutionary 1st of May,” had begun assembling in the late afternoon in the Neukölln neighbourhood with the idea of marching to neighbouring Kreuzberg, in response to a call by leftist and extreme-left groups.
By late afternoon, there were some 5,000 demonstrators, according to the police. Organisers put the number at 20,000.
Some 5,600 police officers were deployed for fear of possible unrest.
The procession was delayed as police enforced the wearing of face masks and social distancing by the participants.
Earlier on Saturday, a bicycle demonstration and an anti-mask rally by about 350 persons were held without incident. In fact, the head of the Internal Affairs division of the City State of Berlin, Andreas Geisel, said in the afternoon that the day had been “essentially peaceful so far.”
Over 20 rallies had been announced for Labour Day in the German capital, focussing on issues ranging from rent increases to migration policy and opposition to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.