Berlin braced for violent anti-lockdown protests – thousands of police to line the streets

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Authorities want to stop demonstrations opposing measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus after a recent gathering broke lockdown rules. Earlier this month more than 20,000 activities marched through Berlin calling for measures, such as mandatory mask wearing and social distancing, to be scrapped. Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior senator, said officials had opted to ban the protest after considering the importance of personal freedom against the need to protect people from the pandemic.

He said: “We are still in the middle of a pandemic with rising infection figures.”

Protest organisers had deliberately breached social distancing rules during their previous gatherings, he added.

Mr Geisel fumed: “Such behaviour is not acceptable.

“The state cannot be given the runaround.”

He also claimed he did not want Berlin to act as a stage for “coronavirus deniers, Reichsbürger and right-wing extremists”.

The senator said several thousand police officers would patrol the streets of the city this weekend.

He has warned of a “considerable potential for violence”, saying he and the police had already been swamped with threats.

Michael Ballweg, the lead organiser for the demonstration, said he would challenge the banning order in court.

He urged people to still march on the streets of Berlin, declaring: “We assume the assembly will take place on August 29.”

Mr Ballweg insisted participants would this time ensure social distancing guidelines are respected.

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The right-wing Alternative for Germany party are calling on its members to join a counter demonstration against the ban.

They have invited activists to gather at the historic Brandenburg Gate in the German capital.

The party’s Berlin wing said: “The Senate is trampling on fundamental rights.

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AfD leader Jorg Meuthen called for the “immediate resignation” of Mr Geisel.

On Wednesday, Germany’s disease control center reported 1,576 new confirmed coronavirus cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has reported 236,429 cases and 9,280 covid-related deaths.

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