More than 5,000 people gathered illegally on Berlin streets on Sunday to demonstrate against Covid measures after a German court ordered a ban on the protest.
Around 950 people have so far been detained after the event called by the so-called “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the loudest protest voice against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions.
During the day, protesters clashed with police – and videos showed children were also caught in the middle of the violence.
The Federation of German Detectives (BDK) said it was appalled by parents who had put their children in danger by bringing them on the demo.
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“Prohibited demonstrations are neither children’s playgrounds nor meaningful leisure activities for young people,” BDK chairman Sebastian Fiedler told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers on Tuesday.
He added that parents who take their children to these kinds of events are “acting irresponsibly to the highest degree.”
Judges had banned several of the “Querdenker” demos over concerns that participants would flout rules on mask wearing and social distancing, amid Germany’s increasing Covid infection rate.
Fiedler said parents were not only exposing children to possible Covid infections, but also putting them at risk of “coming to harm in violent confrontations”.
For police, the presence of children poses special challenges, he said. “Breaking up a demo can be made considerably more difficult by this”, he said adding that this may be part of the protesters’ plan.
However, this behaviour could also have criminal consequences, the BDK chairman warned.
“These parents should be aware that they could face criminal proceedings… should something happen to their children,” he said.
Berlin police deployed more than 2,000 officers in riot gear across the city, in anticipation of protesters gathering despite the ban on Sunday.
Some of the demonstrators held up signs saying “Freedom” and “No to the corona dictatorship”, with very few masks seen among the crowds.
Authorities also banned three other anti-lockdown demonstrations that were to take place on Monday.
The latest action has led the Social Democrats (SPD) to call on German authorities to monitor the “Querdenker” movement more closely.
Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution announced in April it was to keep an eye on the movement over concerns they pose a threat to democracy and have ties to right-wing extremism.
In response to the ban the “Querdenker” group said it had been “organising peaceful demonstrations against the restrictions of basic rights” in response to Coronavirus rules put in place since April 2020.
“We stand for peacefulness, for freedom and fundamental rights and take responsibility for the people who attend our demonstrations,” said the group in a press release dated July 31st.
Gathered – versammelt
Ban on demonstrations – Das Demonstrationsverbot
Event – (die) Veranstaltung
Playground/children’s playground – (der) Kinderspielplatz
To monitor (something) – beobachten
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