German ministers condemn violence at Leipzig anti-mask protest

German ministers and other senior officials on Sunday condemned the violence that broke out in eastern city Leipzig at a demonstration against coronavirus infection control measures

German ministers condemn violence at Leipzig anti-mask protest
Participants hold placards during a protests organised by the Querdenken organisation. Photo: John Macdougall / AFP
“Nothing can justify what was seen in Leipzig,” Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“The mockery of science and the far-right incitement we've seen are appalling,” she added, condemning attacks on police and the press.
More than 20,000 people, most of them unmasked, gathered in the Saxon city on Saturday, and many refused a police order to disperse after ignoring requests to wear face coverings and keep a distance of 1.5 metres between participants.
Rather than leave, demonstrators set off on a march down one of the city's major streets, attacking police and journalists and throwing objects including fireworks, police said.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said those “endangering fellow people, attacking police and journalists, spreading extreme-right hate and setting alight barricades at counter-demonstrations have left the protection” for protest guaranteed under Germany's constitution.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert did not comment directly on the violence, but recalled that demonstrators are bound by infection control measures.
Violence continued into the evening in Leipzig, and a police spokesman told AFP there had been “arrests”.
Germany has in recent days hit new records for coronavirus infections above 23,000 in a single day, while the number of dead since the pandemic began has mounted to 11,226.
Unlike some European neighbours like France, the country has not ordered a nationwide lockdown.
But the discipline most Germans have shown so far in following government-ordered measures has been tinged with discontent in some quarters.

Member comments

  1. I almost hope some of the demonstrators catch the disease and suffer! However, they would need to be cared for by health workers, an unnecessary and preventable use of resources.

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.