IN PICTURES: Police in Berlin halt anti-coronavirus protest

IN PICTURES: Police in Berlin halt anti-coronavirus protest
A protester (right) holds a sign saying 'mask off'. Photo: AFP
Police in Berlin have called off an 18,000-strong protest against coronavirus restrictions, saying protesters had not worn masks, as required by a court.

“Unfortunately, we have no other option,” Berlin police wrote on Twitter. “We've approached the leader of the demonstration and informed him that his assembly will be dissolved by the police. All the measures taken so far have not led to compliance with the conditions.”

By 3pm, many of the protesters had sat down at the junction of Friedrichstrasse and Torstrasse, with police slowly removing them by force.
 
Photo:  Bernd Von Jutrczenka / dpa
 
The crowd gathered in the morning at Brandenburg Gate on Saturday morning, with demonstrators shouting “Open the gate” and “We are the people,” chants taken from those of the pro-democracy movement in former East Germany.
 
The protest was called by Querdenken 711 (Lateral Thinking 711), a Stuttgart-based libertarian group founded by the software entrepreneur Michael Ballweg, which has some 16,000 followers on Facebook. But far-right groups and those against vaccination have also got involved. 
 
Robert F Kennedy Jr,  the nephew of assassinated US president John F Kennedy and a prominent anti-vaxxer was set to speak at the event. 
 

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Protesters at the Brandenburg gate brandishing signs declaring German politicians 'guilty'. Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa
 
A large procession began making its way down the Friedrichstrasse shopping street. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa
 
 
Some protesters held signs asking people to question the need to anti-infection measures, calling for people to have a more open mind. Here protester hold signs saying “question your fear”. 
 
Photo: AFP
 

The demonstration brought together a disparate mix of the far-right, the far-left, opponents of vaccination, and in many areas had a celebratory party atmosphere, with drums, chanting and cheering. 

 
Counter-protesters came out around Humbolt University, chanting “You're marching alongside Nazis”. 
 

Others held signs saying “Stop the corona-deniers”. 
 
Photo: John Macdougall/AFP
 
“Even Patrick know that Nazis are shit,” reads this counter-protester's banner. 
 
Photo: John Macdougall/AFP
 
Most of those protesting against coronavirus curbs refused to wear masks or keep their distance. 
 
Photo: John Macdougall/AFP