354 arrested as dozens of police injured during Berlin May Day riots

2 May 2021, 16:04

Police officers during a May Day rally in Berlin
Virus Outbreak May Day. Picture: PA

Protesters threw bottles and rocks at officers, and started fires in the streets.

At least 93 police officers were injured and 354 protesters were detained after traditional May Day rallies in Berlin turned violent, the German Police Union has said.

More than 20 rallies took place in the German capital on Saturday and the vast majority were peaceful.

However, a leftist march of 8,000 people through the city’s Neukoelln and Kreuzberg district, which has often seen clashes in past decades, turned violent. Protesters threw bottles and rocks at officers, and burned rubbish bins and wooden pallets in the streets.

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a May Day rally in Berlin
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a May Day rally in Berlin (Markus Schreiber/AP)

“Violence against police officers and a blind, destructive rage has nothing to do with political protest,” Berlin state interior minister Andreas Geisel said.

He condemned the throwing of bottles and rocks and the burning of barricades on the streets and especially the violence towards police, saying: “The high number of injured officers leaves me stunned. I wish all of those who were injured in the line of duty a quick recovery.”

There is a nightly curfew in most parts of Germany because of the high number of coronavirus infections, but political protests and religious gatherings are exempt.

In France, May Day marches in Paris and the southern city of Lyon were also marred by scattered violence, with riot officers targeted by small groups of violent demonstrators who threw projectiles and bins.

Police use a water cannon at the Place de la Nation in Paris
Police use a water cannon at the Place de la Nation in Paris (Lewis Joly/AP)

Police made 56 arrests, including 46 in Paris, the Interior Ministry said. It added that six officers suffered injuries, three of them in Paris.

The CGT labour union that organised the main Paris march said violent demonstrators also targeted its marchers at the end of the rally, showering them with projectiles, blows and homophobic, sexist and racist insults.

The union said 21 of its participants were injured, four seriously.

By Press Association