May 1st in Berlin: Individual scuffles at rallies – politics

Around 14,000 people marched through Berlin at the traditional May Day demonstration of left-wing and radical left-wing groups. There were no major riots, but there were isolated scuffles between demonstrators and the police in Kreuzberg. The elevator was largely peaceful, said Berlin’s police chief Barbara Slowik in the evening. A large police force accompanied the protest march from Neukölln to Kreuzberg. A total of almost 6,000 police officers were on duty in the capital on May 1st.

At the end of the elevator, Oranienplatz, there were occasional clashes between left-wing demonstrators and police officers. Bottles and firecrackers were thrown at police officers, as a dpa reporter observed. Police forces used tear gas. Bengal fires could also be seen. The police drew a positive balance and spoke on Twitter late on Sunday evening about the impression of the “most peaceful first of May in Berlin for decades”.

There were 37 arrests, according to the police. Among them were people who had thrown bottles at the emergency services, the authority said. The police wanted to provide more information about the operation on Monday. Every attack is one too many, said Berlin’s police chief Barbara Slowik after the end of the demonstration. “Nevertheless, on May 1st we noticed an even lower level of violence than in the previous year or even ten years ago.”

The demonstration, in which a number of participants with face masks could be seen, ran from Hertzbergplatz via Sonnenallee in Neukölln. A critical point on the route was the Kottbusser Tor, where a new, controversial police station is planned in a high-rise building. Left-wing groups protested against the project in the place with a lot of crime and party life. At this point, however, it remained comparatively quiet.

A construction rubble container was later set on fire on the demonstration route. A car was also on fire, a police spokeswoman said. The elevator had previously been stopped repeatedly, for example to check some of the flags that had been shown. “There were coercive measures (pushing and pressing) and the use of tear gas after attacks by Pyro, punches and kicks in the direction of the police forces from parts of the demo,” said the authority on Twitter in the evening.

In the crowd, demonstrators waved flags and banners could be seen. Among other things, demonstrators used it to express their opposition to capitalism. “No war but class war” read one banner.

Several Palestinian groups

The protest march was led by a block of mainly Turkish and Arabic migrants known as “Migrantifa”. Numerous Palestinian groups also took part. The police had expected this after they had banned a demonstration by Palestinian initiatives planned for Friday and replacement events out of fear of anti-Semitic incidents – and courts had upheld the decision. Many people waved Palestine flags, others chanted “Free Palestine”. Sharp criticism of Israel’s policies was expressed in several speeches.

The Jewish Forum announced on Twitter that it would monitor the demo and document anti-Semitic incidents. Some of the banners and demands could be understood as a “call for the violent annihilation of the State of Israel,” the forum later tweeted. The police had announced in advance that they would also use interpreters to have Arabic slogans translated and to check whether they were inflammatory. State security is also on, said a police spokesman.

During the day, the May Day campaigns in Berlin got off to a quiet start. At noon, a bicycle demonstration started in the Grunewald, for which up to 10,000 people were registered. It started with about 2,000 participants, said a police spokesman.

Labor Day: The bicycle demonstration in front of the Red City Hall in Berlin.

The bicycle demonstration in front of the Red City Hall in Berlin.


There was a moment of shock for Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey at a rally at the Brandenburg Gate: the SPD politician was insulted and an egg was thrown at her – but she was not hit.

Giffey gave a speech at the central event of the German Trade Union Confederation. “At the end of my speech and at the point where I thanked the police for their work today, the eggs were thrown,” said the SPD politician later. “Such actions are neither helpful nor politically valuable. They distract from what is actually at stake today: solidarity with Ukraine, fair working conditions and pay and jointly overcoming the crises of our time.” And she added: “Every one of us knows that protests on May Day are part of it, but violence isn’t. I won’t let that deter me in my political work.”

Labor Day: A moment of shock for the mayor: A security guard fends off the egg throw with the umbrella.

A moment of shock for the mayor: A security officer fends off the egg throw with the umbrella.


However, Giffey had to temporarily interrupt her speech because of the protests. The crowd clamored to implement the Berlin referendum on the expropriation of housing companies.

At the same rally, DGB boss Reiner Hoffmann was sometimes interrupted with chants. The union boss opposed a permanent increase in the defense budget to two percent of gross domestic product, as promised in NATO. Instead, the money is needed for the welfare state and the climate-friendly restructuring of the economy. “That’s why we say today clearly and unequivocally no to a massive rearmament,” said the chairman of the German trade union federation.

In Dortmund, the police used pepper spray and batons against demonstrators from the autonomous scene. The people attacked police officers and tried to break through a barrier, said a police spokeswoman. A spokeswoman for “Autonomous Antifa 170” complained about police violence: Several participants were injured. The police spokeswoman said in the afternoon that so far there was no information on injuries.

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