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May Day Events

DW staff (als)
May 1, 2007

Clashes between party crowds and police broke out again this year during May Day Eve celebrations in Berlin, with over 60 people arrested. Other celebrations, however, were largely peaceful.

Confrontations between police and protesters did not reach proportions seen in the pastImage: AP
Rioters threw bottles at police officers in Berlin last night during what is known as "Walpurgnis Night," or "Witches' Night" in Germany and other parts of Europe. Traditionally a pagan custom to ring in Springtime, people celebrate and dance in pubs and outside.

Berlin police said that drunken young people also threw stones at them in Friedrichshain, an eastern district of the city.

Earlier in the evening, around 1,000 anti-globalization protestors held peaceful demonstrations in Friedrichshain.

Over 5,000 riot police equipped with batons and water-cannons are currently on duty in Berlin -- 1,000 of those from other German states -- to keep celebrations and demonstrations under control.

Undercover unit
Kreuzberg am Vorabend des 1. Mai, Autonome, Krawalle
Reminders of Kreuzberg street battle 20 years agoImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Berlin police also said a special undercover unit had been installed, with around 100 plain-clothes agents mixing unobtrusively with demonstrators in order to spot and arrest trouble-makers and prevent riots.

The undercover unit was created during last year's World Cup to catch soccer hooligans on Berlin's streets.

Twenty years ago, on May 1, 1987, rioters in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin clashed with police and smashed shop windows. Businesses were also plundered and cars set on fire.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, run-ins between rioters and police have been frequent on May Day Eve or May 1, particularly in the eastern districts of the city.

However, celebrations and demonstrations have been more peaceful the past two years, police said.

May 1 is traditionally a day for nation-wide protests and rallies, mainly organized by unions, to demand better working conditions in German businesses.
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