Police estimate up to 20,000 people attended Saturday’s march through the German capital, with some reports putting the figure far higher.
Demonstrators, most of them not wearing masks, carried placards with slogans against Covid-19 restrictions, vaccinations, and face “muzzles.” Officers intervened several hours into the protest, claiming that the participants were not adhering to social distancing rules.
Thousands of people assembled in the German capital to rally against anti-coronavirus restrictions, describing the measures as undemocratic and a threat to freedom.
Around 20,000 protesters took part in the event, dubbed ‘The end of the pandemic – freedom day’, according to German media, citing a police estimate.
The crowd marched through downtown Berlin as they held up signs featuring slogans such as “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination,” and “We are making noise because you are stealing our freedom!”
Footage from RT’s Ruptly video agency shows organizers, who were addressing the crowd from a stage, being forcibly removed by police as onlookers shouted and booed. Officers then used loudspeakers to order the protesters to disperse. Several arrests were made after some of the demonstrators refused to leave the area. Footage shows some of the activists being carried away by police in riot gear.
Berlin police said that eighteen officers had been injured during the protest, resulting in three hospitalizations. The city deployed some 1,100 officers to monitor and eventually shut down the demonstration.
On the same day, Berlin police scuffled with left-wing activists during an anti-gentrification protest in the city’s borough of Neukolln. Videos show officers charging at black-clad demonstrators and using pepper spray to disperse the mob.
The clashes also resulted in several arrests, according to reports.
A crowd of people whistling and cheering, and with few masks in sight, marched through downtown Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate ahead of a rally on a wide boulevard that runs through the city’s Tiergarten park.
Protesters held up home-made placards featuring slogans that included “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “End the corona panic — bring fundamental rights back.”
They chanted, “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom.”
Germany’s management of the pandemic has been viewed as relatively successful. The country’s death toll — just over 9,150 out of more than 210,670 confirmed virus cases as of Saturday – is lower than in comparable nations.
The German government has been easing lockdown measures since late April but social-distancing rules remain in place, as does a requirement to wear masks on public transit and in shops.