Protests against Covid-19 restrictions in multiple major cities across the country were planned for Saturday, with the biggest occurring in the central German city of Kassel.
According to local media reports, citing police, at least 10 thousand people showed up for a rally there, many of them refusing to wear masks.
The marching protesters chanted “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the people”) at one point, a slogan commonly used in the past during anti-communism demonstrations in East Germany.
Protesters also carried signs reading ‘Corona Rebels’ and ‘End the Lockdown.’
Counter-protesters also took to the streets and footage from the event shows scuffles breaking out between the two groups, as well as pushing matches between demonstrators and police officers wearing riot gear. Police revealed they used pepper spray, batons, and even a water cannon to keep the protest contained as people tried breaking through barriers in place and began throwing objects like water bottles.
“This is not what a peaceful protest looks like,” North Hesse police tweeted about the protesters’ actions.
Protests in Berlin and Munich were reportedly much smaller, with only a few dozen people gathering in the capital, despite a police presence of nearly 2,000 waiting for them.
Germany is currently facing another surge in Covid-19 cases, with 16,000 new ones being reported on Saturday, along with over 200 deaths. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned this week that efforts to ease back lockdown restrictions could need an “emergency brake” amidst the rise in cases.
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