Authorities say officers used the irritant after being pelted with cobblestones and bottles
Protests broke out across the German state of Saxony on Monday night, with three officers in the city of Bautzen sustaining injuries after the anti-lockdown demonstrators bombarded police with cobblestones and bottles.
The violence in Bautzen escalated when law enforcement attempted to break up a march, with approximately 600 protesters taking to the city streets to vent their anger at Covid restriction measures.
Police described 150-200 participants as “violent hooligans and people from right-wing circles.” According to authorities, officers had to use “simple physical violence” and deploy pepper spray when three protesters tried to force their way through a police cordon. One demonstrator suffered from an asthma fit as a result.
In the Saxon town of Freiberg, a total of approximately 700 anti-lockdown protesters had also gathered on Monday evening, with police at one point positioning their vehicles to form a cordon in the crowd’s path. However, a group of 100 demonstrators attempted to break through the obstacle, damaging a vehicle in the process. One person has reportedly been detained in connection with that episode. In the wake of the rally, a police spokesperson warned that there was an “increased potential for violence” among the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, around 300 people took to the streets in Dresden, where there were reports of a Swiss journalist being assaulted.
Counter-demonstrations also took place, and police inserted themselves between opposing camps to avoid a physical confrontation.
Covid-19 restrictions currently limit any outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in Saxony.
Similar protests were held in Thuringia, with a total of 17,000 people taking part across the region, and in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where 15,000 protesters turned out across 20 locations. Police also deployed pepper spray in the city of Rostock and similar gatherings were reported in Bavaria, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.
Authorities are also investigating after an individual was spotted at a march in the town of Grimma wearing a Star of David with the word “unvaccinated” inscribed on it.
Germany’s interior minister, Nancy Faeser, expressed concern over what she described as an influx of right-wing extremists. Speaking on the ZDF channel, Faeser urged anti-lockdown protesters to “ask themselves what sort of people they are going out on the streets with.”
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