Organizers of the counter demo called “Stop the Hatred” have announced that the gathering will involve music and dancing, with plans for participants to ride boats and rafts along the river Spree in the capital’s government district.
Berlin clubs will also be taking part. 14 cars with DJs on them will drive through the city centre playing music to encourage the participants to dance. Nearly 8,000 people have stated on Facebook that they will be attending the counter demo. Organizers predict attendance to reach over 10,000.
The AfD opponents will gather at 11 am in front of the Reichstag building on Sunday. Organizers expect members of the Bundestag (German parliament) from the Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Green Party as well as representatives of initiatives, groups and trade unions to be present.
The AfD on the other hand also expect several thousand people to take part in their protest, called “Future for Germany”, which will begin at Berlin’s central station at noon and then make its way to the Brandenburg Gate. Party chairmen Jörg Meuthen and Alexander Gauland are scheduled to speak.
But “Stop the Hatred” participants have announced that they intend to block the AfD’s route, possibly at the central station.
The police are preparing for a major operation with more than 2,000 police officers scheduled to be on duty, including the federal police and officers from ten federal states.
At AfD demonstrations in the past, counter protesters had tried more than once to overcome police barriers in order to set up sit-in blockades on the streets. On a far-left website, activists wrote: “We call for the AfD march to be sabotaged by all necessary means.”
With regards to possible clashes between both groups, Berlin AfD chief Georg Pazderski said he had full confidence in the police.
Meanwhile the police are committed to their task of enforcing the right to demonstrate. “Freedom of association applies to everyone,” said a police spokesman, adding that “anyone may demonstrate as long as they obey the law.”
Violent clashes between radical left-wing protesters and the police are by no means being ruled out for Sunday. Some participants in the scene tolerate attacks and assaults as a means of dealing with the AfD.
Over the past few days, people online have written about possible damage to property and graffiti on offices or homes of certain AfD politicians. Also circulating on the internet are calls for violence on behalf of the AfD supporters against the left-wing counter demonstrators.
The police plan to set up extensive barriers in Berlin’s government district as early as Saturday evening with the aim of keeping the AfD’s route clear. From Sunday morning onwards, numerous police officers will be standing on guard at various intersections.