Many thousands of “silk cherry” demonstrate in the middle of the Leipzig pandemic. A debate breaks out about the tactics of the police. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer now warns against hasty criticism.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) warned of hasty criticism of the police after the mass violations of the rules at the Leipzig Corona demonstration and also called the courts. “We should no longer question the tactics of the police afterwards without knowledge of details and without a full picture through remote diagnosis. All involved, the assembly authorities, the police and the courts must make responsible decisions in the light of current contamination situation, “he said on Sunday evening in a statement from his ministry.
“The right of assembly must be guaranteed, especially in times of crisis. But the rules of the assembly authorities must be observed and enforced,” Seehofer said. He added, “The police have my full support.”
At the “silk think” demonstration in Leipzig with tens of thousands of participants on Saturday, according to police, there were massive violations of hygiene regulations. It was dissolved after two and a half hours. The protesters then marched across the inner city ring, although they were prohibited from doing so – without the police preventing it. The city council wanted to move the meeting to the suburbs, but failed at the higher administrative court.
The police are accused of failure by several politicians
Numerous politicians accused the Leipzig police and the Saxon interior minister of failure on Sunday. Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) found clear words. No one in the Saxon government and the majority of people in Germany understands these kinds of demonstrations “because of recklessness and pride at a time when an open mind shows the dangers of the virus”. At the same time, he announced a processing of the event.
Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) spoke of a fatal signal. “It is incomprehensible to me that amid a worsening corona pandemic, a meeting of over 16,000 participants in the center of Leipzig can be approved. The organizers and participants made it clear in advance that they do not wear masks and do not want to maintain a minimum distance.” With such a number of participants, effective control by the police is impossible. A violent dissolution of a peaceful demonstration was not in question.
The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Bautzen had only allowed the demonstration on Saturday morning in the city center, limited to 16,000 participants. The city had wanted to move the rally to a large fairground car park on the outskirts of the city to protect against contamination, the Leipzig Administrative Court had initially confirmed. The OVG’s motivation for approval is still pending.
Thousands took part in the “lateral thinking” demonstration in Leipzig. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa.
Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) called for a “thorough investigation”. “What we saw in Leipzig yesterday cannot be justified by anything. The freedom to demonstrate is not the freedom to use force and put others at great risk,” said Lambrecht. Such a situation in the middle of the pandemic cannot be repeated. Thousands close to each other without masks are a height of irresponsibility and selfishness.
Left, the Greens and the SPD in Saxony demanded a processing of the events in a special meeting of the domestic committee. “An obvious planning disaster resulted in the Leipzig state capitulating to enemies of democracy and unable to enforce the right to assemble or to effectively counter attacks on counter-protests, journalists and the police,” the domestic political spokesman for the Green Parliamentary Group Valentin Lippmann. . The left spoke of “state failure”.
The chairman of the Conference of Ministers of the Interior, Georg Maier (SPD), criticized the court’s decision: “That would not have been necessary,” said the Thuringian minister of the ARD. He called on the police to act more consistently against rule violations: “We must prepare for the future to intervene much more consistently, much harder and earlier in such meetings.”
The police chief defends himself
Leipzig police chief Torsten Schultze defended the police’s actions. You had three goals: to ensure a peaceful course, to prevent acts of violence and to enforce infection protection, he said in a video statement. The first two goals have been largely achieved, the third not. ‘You don’t fight a pandemic with police means, but only with people’s common sense.’
Police spoke of 20,000 people on Augustusplatz on Saturday, and the “Counted Through” initiative estimated the total number of participants at 45,000. Initially, the meeting was largely peaceful. Due to the violation of the requirements, the city of Leipzig dissolved the meeting shortly before 4 pm.
In fact, people just stopped, only a few left the city center as instructed. The crowd took over the ring, the site of Monday’s demonstrations in 1989. At around 6:00 PM, the police released many thousands of people. Police spokesman Olaf Hoppe explained that the crowd could only be stopped by using massive force.
While the “silk cherry” walked across the ring, strangers attacked the police in Leipzig-Connewitz. Stones were thrown at the windows of a police station. Barricades were later set on fire. The police advanced with water cannons and numerous troops. On Friday night, masked people had attacked the police in the neighborhood that was considered an alternative to the left.
Leipzig police on Sunday registered 102 crimes with 89 suspects for all operations, including attacks on law enforcement officers, physical injuries and property damage. There are 13 preliminary arrests and 18 arrests. In addition, 140 administrative violations were registered.