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Blinded Stuttgart protestor threw objects at police, video reveals

The Local · 7 Oct 2010, 15:31

Published: 07 Oct 2010 15:31 GMT+02:00

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A widely circulated photograph of Dietrich Wagner being helped away from protests with bloodied and swollen eyes shocked Germany, turning the 66-year-old into a symbol of opposition against the controversial rail project known as Stuttgart 21.

Some demonstrators have accused police of going too far at the September 30 clash, when more than 100 people were injured. This week, protestors were photographed at demonstrations wearing fake blood around their eyes in his honour.

Click here for a photo gallery of the Stuttgart 21 protest.

On Wednesday, Wagner, a retired engineer, told news magazine Stern that he had been trying to help some young people who were caught in the stream of water when he was blasted with the cannon directly in the face so forcefully he lost consciousness.

Doctors told the magazine that Wagner’s injuries are so severe that he may not regain his sight.

Demonstrators have said police reacted with disproportionate force to their blockade of the construction site in Baden-Württemberg state capital, a charge the authorities have denied.

But the new video, taken by police and broadcast by channel Sat. 1 on Wednesday evening, shows Wagner lobbing small, unidentified objects toward police officers during the demonstration.

The video also showed other demonstrators climbing onto and under police vehicles, setting off fireworks and scuffling with officers in a generally aggressive manner – with Wagner in the middle of it all.

The injured pensioner has launched legal action against Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Ministry for causing bodily injury.

Meanwhile the state parliament has begun an official investigation into what prompted police to turn water cannons, batons, tear gas and pepper spray on the demonstrators. State Interior Minister Heribert Rech has squarely blamed the protestors for the escalation.

Story continues below…

The increasingly controversial construction in Stuttgart is part of a massive undertaking to make the city part of a 1,500-kilometre high-speed rail route across Europe.

It will require 16 new tunnels, 18 new bridges, 60 kilometres of new train track and three new stations. Stuttgart's terminus will be transformed into an underground through-station – requiring a dramatic re-landscaping of the centre.

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Your comments about this article

15:46 October 7, 2010 by dankworth
Aha! So of with his head! Or his eyes whichever comes first. The police still need to answer for the unappropriate use of what can be lethal force. I hope he sues the city.
15:52 October 7, 2010 by toemag
Something just doesn't look right on that picture.... Can you provide a link to the video for our scrutiny, as I'm interested just what he threw that gave just cause for the police response, oh yes, an eye for an eye, please excuse my pun, guess the bully boys were in the right and Mr Wagner was the ring leader, the MISTER BIG of the citizen upraising....
16:50 October 7, 2010 by toemag
Thanks Bipa, could have been gummi bärchen from the quality of the footage....
18:57 October 7, 2010 by Frank84
Ohhhhhh, he threw chestnuts against the police. After the video stuff it was legal to smash his face. He lost his eyesight, oh sorry, but better as to lose the life or to be invalid after all. This is out of all proportion, okay.
19:12 October 7, 2010 by Richard Hurlbrink
What choice do the people of Stuttgart have except to take to the street. The politicians have ignored their wishes and pleas. Whether the people want it or not the new expensive construction will go forward. So much for Germany being a democratic society representing the will of the people.
19:25 October 7, 2010 by SRaab
SEE, Pay backs a Bi?ch......
21:09 October 7, 2010 by Landmine
"setting off fireworks and scuffling with officers in a generally aggressive manner "

And people are surprised demonstrators were hurt... Act like a misbehaving kid, and you will get spanked....
22:11 October 7, 2010 by Karolis_LTU
thats just pathetic.. we suppose to believe that there is rock in his hand? 8 year child with little skills of "paint" program could do more convincing correction. such a shame for German authorities, I didn't expected that in such country authorities would act with their people like with complete idiots.
22:18 October 7, 2010 by veritas_69
Where were these protesters when they raised the VAT from 15% to 19%?
22:21 October 7, 2010 by delvek
Confucius say, "throw rock get water in face".
23:37 October 7, 2010 by Frenemy
@delvek: damn right!

Don't start none, won't be none.

Write to you representatives fools (if you ever attended a school that is)! Otherwise go ahead and act the fool! But don't complain when you get pwned by a cracked out supersoaker!!

Common sense goes a long way folks...
02:36 October 8, 2010 by sonriete
It seemed that the protesters had a plan to deliberately put the old people and children in the middle of the action, I wonder about the ethics of that.

This project had been publicly discussed for a long time, since before the last Lander election, if the people had turned out in support of the opposition then, they would have ended the project in a democratic fashion.

That did not happen, the people chose the supporters of the project in the election.

Now there of those who want to overturn the results of a democratic election with aggressive protests that include their children.

What a shame that it has come to this.
09:19 October 8, 2010 by freechoice
somebody drop a necklace during the scuffle?

he's giving it back?
10:27 October 8, 2010 by dbert4
I believe that "violent" old man is throwing a chestnut! Clearly assault with a deadly weapon................
11:07 October 8, 2010 by Landmine
water is also assault with a deadly weapoin I suppose...
14:39 October 8, 2010 by Talonx
'the proposed demolition of this planet has been at the Vogon's intergalactic planning offices for some time now. . .'

Good argument Frenemy.

Police had no reason to be there, unless it was to protect the good citizens from the heavy machinery, in my opinion.

Who are the cops supposed to protect anyways? People or faceless empty business intrests.
15:56 October 8, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I'm in solidarity with the trees on this one. I'm from a place (LA) where the cops routinely overreact with unnecessary violence. Whenever they do that they are commonly referred to as "Gestapo." I would have thought the German police would have learned something from this country's ignominious past, but I would have been wrong.
16:48 October 8, 2010 by Prufrock2010
From the accounts I've read it would seem that the violence was committed by the cops, not the protesters.
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