News and Commentary

Riot Police Clash With Anti-Lockdown Protesters In Berlin, Germany
09 May 2020, Berlin: At a demonstration on Alexanderplatz, a policeman is standing with a breathing mask. Several hundred people gathered at Alexanderplatz on Saturday afternoon for an unannounced meeting. The police were on the scene with several task forces. According to a spokeswoman, police officers pointed out to the demonstrators the regulations for containing corona infections. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Photo by Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images

German police arrested more than 130 people who attended an anti-lockdown rally that turned violent Saturday, marking weeks of protests that have often teetered on the edge of riots.

Germany instituted some of the least draconian measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, locking down only those at risk of contracting the virus, but demanding strict social distancing measures and banning gatherings of more than two people who are not family members who also live in close proximity, according to German news outlet, DW.

Italy, France, and Spain all had much stricter controls in place. In France, for example, people were forbidden from leaving their homes except for essential tasks and were “required to fill out a form stating their reason for leaving the house.”

Despite that, Germany has been able to keep its coronavirus infection numbers low, “in part due to widespread, early testing, lockdown measures and its well-funded and operated health care system,” per Fox News. Results are so good, German Chancellor Angela Merkel “announced Wednesday the country would begin easing its lockdown restrictions, allowing shops to reopen and school children to gradually return to classrooms. Germany’s football league system, Bundesliga, was cleared to restart as early as May 16.”

That’s not soon enough for some Germans who say they’re suffering tremendously from the economic lockdown and want all measures lifted — not just eased.

As many as 3,000 Germans gathered in Berlin on Saturday in the latest in a string of protests designed to flout Merkel’s measures, some of which have turned so violent authorities have called in riot police.

“At least 131 people were arrested after two separate protests in Berlin were broken up by police after some demonstrators began throwing bottles at officers,” according to Fox News and based on reports from European news networks. “Police said another 23-year-old man was arrested in the western city of Dortmund after allegedly attacking a TV crew. Protesters in Cologne allegedly were encouraging those entering newly reopened shops to remove their face mask, according to authorities.”

Although much of the interest from news organizations has centered around American anti-lockdown protests, also designed to challenge lockdown policies that many feel are now going far beyond what was necessary to “flatten the curve” and free up healthcare resources, anti-lockdown protests have been happening across the globe.

As in the United States, though, German anti-lockdown efforts have their own critics. Officials who say anti-coronavirus methods were lifted too early point to a sudden rise in German infections, just days after Merkel loosened restrictions. As in the United States, though, its not known whether that rise is directly connected to the lockdown lift, as the virus typically incubates for 5-10 days before victims begin to show symptoms.

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