Berlin (dpa) – After numerous illegal meetings of opponents of the Corona policy in Berlin on Sunday, the police launched at least 503 preliminary investigations against participants.
Police said on Monday evening that 59 cases are under investigation for resistance and 43 for assault against law enforcement officers. Further reports were therefore written for particularly serious violations of the peace, the liberation of prisoners and violations of the Freedom of Assembly Act and the Berlin Infection Protection Ordinance.
Despite a ban on major demonstrations, including such so-called “lateral thinkers”, several thousand people marched through the capital on Sunday. They continued to gather in groups in different parts of the city, and there were several clashes between protesters and police forces. More than 60 police officers were injured, some seriously, police said.
According to the police, the largest unauthorized gathering in the Westend district had up to 2,000 participants. An intersection was blocked by a coach. In total, nearly 1,000 people had to “restrict or arrest their freedom” this weekend. More than 60 percent of them came to Berlin from other states. Participants in unauthorized gatherings had repeatedly attacked emergency services in various neighborhoods, as well as dissenters and at least one television crew.
A 48-year-old died after provisional arrest during a ‘lateral thinker’ demonstration. According to the Public Prosecution Service on Monday, an autopsy revealed that he had suffered a heart attack: “There is no evidence of external violence that caused death during the arrest.” The investigation into the cause of death has not yet been completed.
Berlin’s Senator for the Interior, Andreas Geisel, judged the police’s conduct at the de facto banned gatherings as professional and appropriate. “We cannot see that the police were not in control of the situation,” the SPD politician said in Berlin’s “Tagespiegel” (online) on Monday.
Three demonstrations scheduled for Monday were also banned. There were no new incidents until the evening, police said. According to the founder of the “lateral thinking 711” initiative, Michael Ballweg, the group registered another rally with 22,500 participants in Berlin on August 29.
The federal government reacted with concern to the riots in the unapproved protests of “lateral thinkers”. There were also “attacks on people from the protest events,” deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Monday. “The federal government is aware of this with great concern.”
The Federal Interior Ministry announced in April that the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution was monitoring individual actors and parts of the Corona protest movement across the country with the help of intelligence agencies. The reason for this is the “constitutionally protection-relevant delegitimization of the state” that they pursue.
The Stuttgart-based group “lateral thinking 711” is considered to be something of a nucleus of the protest movement that is now active nationwide. “Lateral thinker is not a lateral thinker” – the scene is very heterogeneous, Federal Department of the Interior spokesman Steve Alter emphasized. The pandemic has created a new form of extremism, in which various actors are “united by the aim of destabilizing and delegitimizing the state institutions, the state as such”.
Ballweg, meanwhile, doubted the number of persons named by the police who were involved in the protests on Sunday. A police spokesperson had spoken to at least 5,000 people on Sunday evening. “In our estimation there were significantly more,” Ballweg said on Monday. He said of the police action on Sunday: “I don’t want to generalize. We saw peaceful officers doing their job, we also saw a lot of police brutality.” The crackdown on peaceful demonstrators was very disproportionate.