Berlin Starts May Day Peacefully -- for Once | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 01.05.2005
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Berlin Starts May Day Peacefully -- for Once

So far, Berlin has experienced the quietest May Day in years. Police only arrested 65 suspected troublemakers the night before the national holiday. Their policy of de-escalation may be bearing fruit.


Not much action, luckily

Around 40 people threw bottles and later stones and firecrackers in clashes with the police after a street party in Berlin's Friedrichshain neighborhood. Three police officers were lightly injured Saturday night, as opposed to more than 50 last year, and a squad car and a tram stop were damaged.

Besides 65 arrests, police barred 46 people from taking part in events planned for Sunday in the city's Kreuzberg neighborhood, where young people for years have gravitated to "do battle" with the police on May Day.

"Given the amount of damage and the number of police injured, it's clear that there was less trouble than on this night last year -- so that the situation could almost be described as peaceful," said a Berlin police spokesman.

Police attributed the relatively quiet night to the ban on bottles and cans, the actions of police de-escalation teams and illumination of the celebration venues in Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg. More than 1,000 police officers were on the job to prevent disturbances.

Fünf gegen Einen, Krawall in Berlin

Sixty-five people were arrested

Sunday's challenge

But the real test could come Sunday evening. After the "Revolutionary May 1 Demonstration" -- which results in riots every year -- was cancelled, organizers told those who looked forward to the event to take part in the "Myfest" street party, set for Sunday in Kreuzberg. They also announced that a rally would take place at 6 p.m., which the Berlin's police chief said was an attempt to disrupt the festival.

Since 1987, violent clashes between young people and the police have erupted on May Day in Berlin. Last year, for the first time, the police managed to bring down the numbers of people hurt, although barricades were set on fire, 192 police officers were injured and 186 people arrested.

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