About 1, 15 people took to the streets of Germany ‘s capital on May Day to illegally vent their fury over strict coronavirus social distancing rules in place in the city. The stringent measures have been enforced since mid-March, with pressure groups growing weary of the restrictions on their personal freedoms. Centred in the city’s bohemian Kreuzberg district, the left-wing protests came on Labor Day, an annual holiday for workers’ rights.
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Leftist groups called for the protests to denounce capitalism and call for greater solidarity with refugees seeking to reach Europe, Aljazeera reported.
Police blocked roads around the main square in order to preempt the notorious violent clashes of previous years’ demonstrations and to prevent more people joining what a police spokeswoman said were illegal gatherings.
She said: “We have prevented the parade from growing bigger and are using loudspeakers to urge people to disperse. “
Despite claims from police the gatherings had remained largely peaceful, video footage broadcast on Russia Today’s YouTube channel showed viole nt skirmishes erupt between demonstrators and law enforcement at a Walpurgis Night demonstration in Berlin.
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The footage showed police dragging protestors away and masked men wavi ng flares from the balconies of buildings.
The clashes came on Walpurgis Night , a day before the May Day violence.
Walpurgis Night, a German festival to mark the change from long, dark winter days to sunnier, longer spring days, is typically celebrated with picnics, parties and bonfires.
German news outlet DW also reported there was at least one outbreak of violence on May Day, with a camera crew working for German broadcaster ZDF suffering a brutal attack in the center of the city.
According to DW, police said the apparently unprovoked attack was launched by a group of seven people. But the number was later revised to 19.
Berlin news: German police break up a Walpurgis Night demonstration in Berlin (Image: RT)
A total of six people have been arrested, police said. They added the reason for the attack was not immediately clear.
ZDF’s program director Norbert Himmler said: “Freedom of the press, especially now, is especially valuable.
“Our first concern in this instance, however, is with the team members and their health.”
The first of May, Germany’s national holiday for workers’ rights, is typically marked by public festivities, loud protests and crowded streets.
But this year the COVID – pandemic has significantly curbed the celebrations.
Germany has been slowly easing its way out of a six-week lockdo wn.
Playgrounds, museums and churches will open from Monday to go with the small shops that reopened this week.
An overwhelming majority of Germans back the lockdown enforced by the country 78 states and backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite its heavy toll on the economy, which is expected to contract by a record of more than 6 percent this year.
Germany has handled the pandemic more successfully than the United States, the UK and Italy, partly thanks to widespread virus testing, a strong healthcare system and strict lockdown measures introduced in mid -March.
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