Berlin police shut down protest against virus restrictions

Berlin police shut down protest against virus restrictions


BERLIN (AP) — Berlin police ordered a protest by people opposed to Germany's pandemic restrictions to disband Saturday after participants refused to observe social distancing rules.

Tens of thousands of people had gathered at the German capital's iconic Brandenburg Gate in the morning before streaming down the Unter den Linden boulevard in a show of defiance against Germany's coronavirus prevention measures.

Protesters carried a wide range of grievances and banners proclaiming their opposition to vaccinations, face masks and the German government in general. Some waved American, Russian or German Reich flags, while others had T-shirts promoting the “QAnon” conspiracy theory. Several wore clothing with white nationalist slogans and neo-Nazi insignia, but most participants denied having far-right views.

Uwe Bachmann, 57, said he had come from southwestern Germany to protest for free speech and his right not to wear a mask.

“I respect those who are afraid of the virus,” said Bachmann, who was wearing a costume and a wig that tried to evoke stereotypical Native American attire. He suggested, without elaborating, that “something else” was behind the pandemic.

Another protester said he wanted Germany's current political system abolished and a return to the constitution of 1871 on the grounds that the country's post-war political system was illegal. Providing only his first name, Karl-Heinz, he had traveled with his sister from their home near the Dutch border to attend the protest and believed that the coronavirus cases being reported in Germany now were “false positives."

Germany has seen an upswing in new cases in recent weeks. The country's disease control agency reported Saturday that Germany had almost 1,500 new infections over the past day. Germany has been praised for the way it has handled the...

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