One Dead, 600 Arrested at Banned Anti-Lockdown Demo in Germany

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German lockdown protest-AFP

Kurt Zindulka

A man died in police custody in Berlin as the German police force launched a hard crackdown of the anti-lockdown demonstration on Sunday, in which some 600 people were arrested.

It is not yet known what was the cause of death for the 49-year-old man who was in police custody in the capital of Germany, however, officers have reported that the man had complained of a tingling in his arm and chest. An investigation into the death has been launched.

Officers attempted to give first aid medical care to the man, yet he ultimately died upon reaching the hospital, Bild reported.

Footage shared on social media showed the police using pepper spray, throwing women to the ground, and even allegedly beating a teenage protester during the chaotic rally.

The Berlin police said on social media: “They tried to break through the police cordon and pull out our colleagues. This led to the use of irritants, batons and physical force.”

The demonstration from the Querdenker (Lateral Thinkers) anti-lockdown movement saw around 5,000 people demonstrate against coronavirus restrictions in Germany, despite a Berlin court banning the protest over supposed concerns about the spreading of the Chinese virus.

The ban on the protest was met with calls of hypocrisy, as the capital had permitted an LGBT Pride parade which saw 35,000 attend just one week prior.

Berlin’s senator, Andreas Geisel of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) defended the tactics of the police, telling Tagesspiegel: “According to the information available to us, the Berlin police and the external forces acted appropriately and professionally .”

Bans on Querdenker protests were extended on Monday, however, according to fliers distributed on Telegram, a “Summer of Freedom” demonstration has been planned in Berlin again on Wednesday.

The protest also saw a journalist allegedly attacked by the protesters. It is claimed people attacked Jörg Reichel, the Berlin-Brandenburg state manager of the German Union of Journalists (DJU) who was pulled from his bicycle by several people and then kicked.

“We are deeply dismayed and stand by the side of our colleague in solidarity, who has been observing the rallies of the so-called lateral thinkers with a great personal commitment since last year and advocating the media and freedom of the press,” said the Federal Managing Director of the DJU in Verdi, Monique Hofmann.

Hoffman claimed that Reichel had received threats from the group over the past months and that his picture and name had been shared on Telegram channels.

In May, Germany lifted many lockdown restrictions, allowing bars and restaurants to reopen, however, many venues require that people are fully vaccinated or can prove that they have recovered from the virus to enter.

Last month, the chief of staff to Chancellor Angella Merkel, Helge Braun, warned that vaccinated people will likely see more freedom than their unjabbed counterparts in the coming months, saying: “vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people,” adding that “the state has the responsibility to protect the health of its citizens.”

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