BERLIN / HAMBURG, GERMANY – Traditional May Day celebrations in Germany saw some protest marches turn violent on Monday, with bottles thrown at police and fireworks set off in the midst of a large demonstration in Berlin’s south central Kreuzberg district.
The so-called Revolutionary May 1 demonstration of several thousand radical leftists was accompanied by helmeted police as police helicopters flew over the area.
Police said they decided to tolerate the demonstration even though the application for the march had been officially rejected.
The route for the march at times led through a traditional street festival of nearly 10,000 people, which was established as a peaceful counterweight to the often violent demonstrations.
As many as 5,400 police were on duty for May Day in Berlin, with the capital city’s forces augmented by police from other parts of the country.
In the eastern German city of Halle, 170 kilometres to the south-west of the capital, five officers were injured as were a number of demonstrators as police came between counterdemonstrators and a planned march of right-wing extremists.
Three groups of counterdemonstrators blocked a march of around 500 right-wing extremists that had travelled to the city from other parts of Germany. Police at times used pepper spray and batons as some counterdemonstrators threw bottles and fireworks.
With the right-wing march blocked, the right-wing extremists held a short demonstration under massive police protection at the city’s main train station.
Suspected right-wing extremists from the Halle demonstration later clashed with police at a spontaneous demonstration in the town of Apolda about 50 kilometres to the south, police reported.
According to police, between 100 and 150 demonstrators stepped off the train in Apolda and started a spontaneous unruly demonstration that continued into the town centre, where they pelted police with stones and fireworks.
Around 100 people were taken into custody.
Meanwhile a march by far-left extremists in the northern port city of Hamburg, which drew some 2,500 participants, passed off peacefully, police said.
Police had deployed water cannon in anticipation of violence and observed the demonstration from helicopters, as previous years had seen clashes after May Day marches.
Earlier Monday some 8,000 trade unionists had rallied in Hamburg accompanied by Social Democrat Mayor Olaf Scholz. -DPA