Police in Berlin met with resistance while clearing left-wing activists from an occupied house and cultural center following a court order. People who lived in the building have called the eviction illegal.
Berlin police announced on Twitter on Friday morning that they had cleared the Liebig 34 house in Berlin, which had been occupied by a group of left-wing radicals. They removed 57 people from the building.
Hundreds of protesters gathered early Friday morning in the Friedrichshain neighborhood as police began enforcing the eviction order. Fights broke out between black-clad demonstrators and the police in front of the building.
Police drove a van up to the building's entrance and several officers tried to break through the barricaded door.
Around 1,500 officers from eight different German states took part in the evictions, including specialist units. The police were acting on behalf of a court order to return the property to its owners.
DW reporter Emmanuelle Chaze was on the scene as protesters and police gathered outside the building. She tweeted a video showing the hundreds of people who had come to "defend a building occupied by anarcho-queer-feminists that police has planned to evacuate this morning," adding that "antifas & police have a long history of stand offs in this Berlin suburb."
The mostly young people defending the occupied corner house shouted slogans in support of the occupants and against the police — "houses for those who live in them," "all of Berlin hates the police."
According to police accounts, glass projectiles and fireworks were thrown at officers within the closed-off zone. Throughout the night protesters allegedly burned tires, garbage dumpsters and set fire to the Tiergarten metro station building.
The occupants of Liebig34 claimed that their lawyer was prohibited by police from entering the house or talking with the bailiff, as such the "eviction is still illegal."
Later on Friday, the Liebig34 Twitter account claimed that four people who were involved in the protests remained in police custody.
Liebig 34 describes itself as an "anarcha-queer-feminist" housing project and one of the last remaining symbols of the leftist scene in the German capital. The leftist bar Syndikat was cleared in August despite large protests in the city.
The Liebig 34 building, which is covered in flags and leftist graffiti, has offered a place of refuge for women, trans and intersex people since 1999. An autonomously run bar and cultural center allowed the occupants to raise funds to cover rent.
The owner of the property, Gijora Padovicz, refused to renew the group's 10-year rental contract in 2018 and began a court process to evict the inhabitants. Padovicz owns several hundred homes in Berlin and has been accused of allowing his properties to deteriorate in order to renovate them and increase rents, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
William Noah Glucroft, a DW reporter, tweeted pictures showing how East Berlin has changed over the past few years. He said that gentrification is "(partly) what Liebig34 is about."
The members of the housing project have organized a further protest in the capital city, set for Friday night.
ab/sms (AFP, dpa)