Neo-Nazis attacked bystanders and shot fireworks into an opposing demonstration on Monday evening in the eastern town of Chemnitz, marking a second day of violence after a deadly stabbing. Counter-protesters also struck back, injuring four right-wing protesters, according to police.
Despite reports of far-right protesters attacking foreigners in the city on the previous day, police still seem to have been ill equipped to deal with the outpouring of anger.
Spiegel reports that the police were badly outnumbered by the protesters, who numbered in the several thousands. Counter-demonstrators, marching under the banner “Chemnitz Nazi-free”, also turned up in large numbers and were only separated from the far-right by a single line of riot police.
The protests were sparked by the death of Daniel H., a 35-year-old German man, in a confrontation at the city festival on Saturday night. In the wake of the killing, rumours spread on far-right websites that foreigners had attempted to sexually assault a woman and then stabbed Daniel H.
Police have not given any indication that a sexual assault took place. But they have arrested a Syrian and an Iraqi man in connection with the killing.
On Sunday football hooligans organized a spontaneous demonstration in the city’s central park. Eye witnesses reported that they attacked people of foreign appearance.
Police said extremists on Sunday attacked an 18-year-old Afghan and his German female companion, 15, punched a Syrian man, 18, and grabbed and threatened a 30-year-old Bulgarian man.
Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said that "riotous assemblies, the hunting down of people who appear to be from different backgrounds or the
attempt to spread hate in the streets have no place in our country".
Saxony state premier Michael Kretschmer called the scenes "disgusting", while the Turkish community in Germany labelled the street violence "an
Pogroms were attacks on Jewish communities which took place in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century.
A lawmaker of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party appeared however to endorse the vigilantism, writing on Twitter that "if the state can no longer protect the citizen, then people will go on the streets and protect themselves".
On Monday evening journalists reporting from the scene reported similar incidents. Der Spiegel recounted how a group of neo-Nazis broke away from the demonstration and attacked bystanders. One young man was dragged to the floor and repeatedly punched before the police intervened.
As the evening drew on, the far-right demonstrators become increasingly aggressive, firing fireworks into the crowd of opposing demonstrators and attempting to break the police line.
At least six people were injured during the evening.
Spiegel reports that the demonstrators shouted “Germany for the Germans. Foreigners out!” and gave the Hitler salute.
Police admitted at the end of the demonstrations that they had been under equipped to deal with the violence. They assured though that “during the night everything remained calm.”
"The investigation, especially into the motive, the details of the crime and the murder weapon, is ongoing," police said. They urged calm in the city and asked that its people do not believe "online misinformation, rumours, speculation and outright lies".
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