354 arrests, 93 injured officers

Labour Day began peacefully in Berlin but devolved into violence as the sun set.

Police officer with fire and mask, a still life.
Police officer with fire and mask, a still life.Imago/Andreas Friedrichs

Berlin-Although a string of protests on 1 May started peacefully, officials say the evening brought a sudden onslaught of violence. An estimated 93 police officers were injured during the traditional skirmishes, according to the local police union, including three officers with broken bones. The interior ministry said 354 arrests were made.

Up to 10,000 people took to the streets during the annual Revolutionary May Day Protest in Neukölln, police said Saturday. The protest eventually devolved into stones and bottles being thrown at emergency personnel. Rioters dragged garbage containers and pallets onto the street and set them on fire. 

The situation had largely cooled by midnight, according to police. Although small fires were still visible, no major activity could be found. The corona curfew had been in effect since 10pm and police had been asking people to go home, a police spokesperson said.

It's unclear how many tickets were written for curfew violations.

Thousands gathered at Hermannplatz.
Thousands gathered at Hermannplatz.Photo: Imago/Müller-Stauffenberg

10,000 in Grunewald, 200 in Lichtenberg

The daytime demonstrations were peaceful, police said, proving protests can adhere to special Covid-19 hygiene rules with masks and distance.

About 200 opponents to corona measures also gathered in Lichtenberg for a protest but police were already escorting unmasked protestors away just as it began. Some here were also given citations. And, outside the ring, about 10,000 cycled through the wealthy Grunewald district to protest people with above-average wealth.

Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel (SPD) said he was unhappy with protestors at the Revolutionary May Day Protest who attacked police officers.

"We will not accept that some violence-seeking anarchists want to take 1 May away from us as a day of peaceful demonstration," he said Sunday. "The large number of injured officers shocks me."

Conservative politicians gave the blame for the violence to the city-state's three-way coalition government.
"The coalition of the SPD, Die Linke and Die Grüne must ask itself what share of responsibility it bears for this," the CDU's Burkard Dregger said. "Their cosying up to the left has fueled tensions."

Berlin news in English.