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Germany: Anti-COVID measures protest of 5,000 turns violent

December 23, 2021

At least one officer was injured and 11 demonstrators were arrested in an unofficial rally in Munich as police described the behavior of protesters as "aggressive."

Protesters facing off with police in Munich
People protesting at coronavirus measures in Munich often showed disrespect, police saidImage: Sachelle Babbar/ZUMA/picture alliance

Thousands of people demonstrated against coronavirus measures in the southern German city of Munich on Wednesday, with police reporting that many participants displayed aggressive behavior toward officers.

Altogether 11 people were arrested, and 14 criminal incidents were reported, including the display of insignia from unconstitutional organizations and violent resistance. At least one officer was badly injured.

The demonstration in Munich came after multiple similar rallies across Germany turned violent, with several police officers injured in clashes with protesters.

What did the police say about the protests?

The atmosphere was perceived as hostile by officers. Police said they had sometimes used pepper spray and batons to fend off attacks from protesters.

According to a police statement, many protesters, some of whom had brought children with them, behaved disrespectfully and insulted officers.

The police said that a journalist had been attacked and that the suspected perpetrator had been arrested.

The statement said that police had followed guidelines on the use of proportionate force and that more rigorous enforcement measures were therefore not employed.

Dealing with vaccine deniers

How did the march start?

After a registered protest against coronavirus measures had been canceled by the organizers, calls for protest "strolls" through the city began circling in Messenger chat groups.

A large group of protesters began marching toward the city center, with law enforcement officers ultimately able to prevent the crowd from reaching its planned destination at full size. Police said that some 5,000 protesters took part in the march at its peak.

Participants in the march eventually dispersed. By 9:30 p.m. local time (2030 UTC), only a few isolated groups remained in the city.

A counterprotest against the originally planned protest went on without incident, according to police. The around 160 counterdemonstrators dispersed early in the evening.

sdi/tj (dpa, AFP)