At least 93 police officers were injured, and 354 protesters arrested after traditional May Day rallies in Berlin turned violent, the city’s top security official said on Sunday, the Associated Press is reporting.
More than 20 different rallies took place in the German capital on Saturday and the majority of them were peaceful.
However, a left-wing march of 8,000 through the city’s Neukoelln and Kreuzberg neighbourhood, which has seen clashes in past decades, turned violent. Protesters threw bottles and rocks at officers and set fires in the streets.
“Violence against police officers and a blind, destructive rage has nothing to do with political protest,” Berlin state interior minister Andreas Geisel said. “The high number of injured officers leaves me stunned.”
There is a nightly curfew in most parts of Germany because of the high number of coronavirus infections, but political protests and religious gatherings are exempt from the curfew.
“We don’t have any final numbers, but regarding the known injured colleagues and detainments, it’s clear that we were far removed from a peaceful May 1,” Stephan Kelm, Berlin’s deputy chief of the police union, told German news agency dpa.
He condemned the throwing of missiles and burning barricades on the streets, saying, “These are clear signs that it’s not about political expression but that the right to assemble was abused to commit severe crimes.”
In France, May Day marches in Paris and the southern city of Lyon were also marred by scattered violence, with riot officers targeted by small groups of violent demonstrators who tossed projectiles and trash bins. Police made 56 arrests, 46 of them in Paris, the Interior Ministry said Sunday. It said six officers suffered injuries, three of them in Paris.
The CGT labour union that organised the main Paris march said violent demonstrators also targeted its marchers at the end of the rally, showering them with projectiles, blows and homophobic, sexist and racist insults.