Protesters filled the German capital on Saturday to demonstrate against the government's coronavirus measures, despite bans on several of the gatherings. Police had prohibited nine planned demonstrations for Saturday, including one by the Querdenker movement. The most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany, it unites a disparate mix of those opposing vaccinations, coronavirus deniers, and right-wing extremists. A court ruled in favor of allowing one event, planned for 500 people, on Saturday and Sunday, the AP reports. Still, like the last round of protests in early August, thousands ignored the bans and turned out to voice their opposition to government measures.
With chants of "We are the people!" the protesters made their way through Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte neighborhoods. At one protest Saturday evening in Mitte, German media reported that police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd unwilling to leave once the protest had ended. The crowd eventually thinned as it began to rain. Meanwhile, a counterprotest complete with techno music drew a crowd of several thousand. Those demonstrators back government restrictions to slow the spread of virus and oppose the Querdenker movement, stressing Berlin's diversity and advocating for more social cohesion.
Berlin police said they dispersed the counterprotesters when the crowd became too big to allow for social distancing. Videos posted on social media, as well as news photos, showed police taking some demonstrators into custody, per the Hill. Germany is debating whether to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people in public, including those wanting to go to restaurants, stadiums, and theaters, a question taking on more urgency as daily infections rise. Germany reported 10,303 new daily infections on Saturday, up more than 2,000 since last week. About 61% of the nation is fully vaccinated, per Reuters.
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