Thousands of people celebrate Saturday evening at Opera Square in Frankfurt. The initially peaceful atmosphere changes around midnight. The police speak of a “hail of bottle throwing”.
Attacks on police officers and traces of destruction: Nearly 40 people were arrested after nightly riots in central Frankfurt. Police said at least five officers were injured on Sunday evening. According to Gerhard Bereswill, the chief of police in Frankfurt, troops were attacked from a crowd with bottles, even though they had acted “de-escalating”.
As the police said, about 3,000 people celebrated on Operaplein when the riot broke out. The incident evokes memories of the Stuttgart riots in late June. Rioters had broken shop windows and looted businesses.
39 people were subsequently arrested, 8 of whom were still in custody on Sunday morning, but were released later. They will be further investigated for peace violations and dangerous personal injuries.
“Absolute, negative highlight”
Overturned bins, broken windows, broken glass bottles: the traces of the riots at night were still clearly visible in the Opera Square in Frankfurt in the morning. Police chief Bereswill sees the riots as an “absolute, negative high” in recent weeks. “It is very bad what originated there and was discharged tonight,” said Bereswill.
At around 3 a.m., police said there was a fight at the fountain on Opernplatz involving 25 to 30 people. At that time, about 500 to 800 people were still gathered on Operaplein. “The mood was beginning to change,” said Bereswill.
During the fight, one person was injured on the floor. As a result, about ten officials decided to intervene “to take care of the injured and to settle the dispute”. The people involved in the battle then turned on the officials and threw “en masse” bottles at them. Bystanders are said to have joined them.
“From bottle throwing”
Attendees cheered when a bottle of officials hit. “In terms of quality, but also in terms of number, I have never experienced that in Frankfurt,” said Bereswill. The police formed two chains and pushed people from the square into the street. Suspect bottle throwers were arrested there. The officials were attacked again, Bereswill spoke of “bottle-throwing hail”.
Together with the public prosecutor’s office, they are currently investigating whether an arrest warrant is being requested for the eight police officers for a serious breach of peace. The detainees, except one woman, are only men between the ages of 17 and 23, police said. Initially, the researchers specified the ages of those involved between the ages of 17 and 21. Nine came from Frankfurt, the other 30 from the surrounding area.
Police: One of the attackers threw more than 20 bottles
“The exact status of the people, whether they are German or non-German and to what extent they have a migration background or whether they are asylum seekers, is still open,” said Frankfurt police chief Gerhard Bereswill. “But what I can already say when I look at the general list: they are mainly men with a migration background.”
One of the men “acted excellently” and was responsible for over 20 bottle throws. He also animated others with that, Bereswill said. Frankfurt mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD) also condemned the attacks. “Those involved should be held immediately liable,” Feldmann wrote on Twitter on Sunday. He also called for the presence of the police at such “hotspots” to be increased.
Frankus security chief Markus Frank (CDU) was dismayed at the attacks. “I’m surprised police officers are the target if they want to help someone.” This has reached a new level of violence. Further measures will be discussed at a security conference Monday morning, according to Frank. In recent weeks, the noble opera square at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt has become an open-air ‘party zone’.