German police gear up for possible May Day violenceEuropost
German cities have put thousands of police officers on standby ahead of demonstrations expected on Saturday to mark May Day across the country, in anticipation of violence at demonstrations planned by members of both the left- and right-wing.
While the DGB trade union confederation was holding its main rally in traditional style in Hamburg under the rubric "Solidarity is the Future," the main focus was on other protests seen as likely to turn violent.
More than 5,000 police will be on the streets in Berlin, where past May Day rallies have been accompanied by violence, particularly after nightfall. This year, protesters against the pandemic restrictions, many of them from the extreme right, are expected alongside the usual left-wing rallies.
The Berlin authorities are expecting up to 10,000 people to show up for a left-wing march starting from 6 pm (1600 GMT) on May Day.
Adding to the challenge are a nightly curfew, in place as part of coronavirus measures, as well as an afternoon demonstration by the Querdenken (Lateral Thinking) group which opposes the government's coronavirus strategy. Police spokesperson Thilo Cablitz told dpa that police officers from across the country would also be brought in.
The eastern city of Leipzig has banned three demonstrations that sought registration, as required under German law. The city cited the pandemic restriction measures, put in place to curtail infections. The organizers of as many as 12 demonstrations sought registration.
Among those banned were a rally by the small extreme right-wing Third Path party and a cycle convoy organized by the Leipzig 2021 movement opposed to the pandemic restrictions.
Third Path demonstrations were also banned in the eastern cities of Zwickau and Plauen.
In Hanover, police set up protection zones for journalists in response to attacks on reporters in the past by Querdenken protesters.