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(en) Germany, Berlin, Media: May Day Demonstrations

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Fri, 2 May 2003 11:53:38 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

BERLIN - Left-wing anarchists tipped over several
cars in Berlin and set them ablaze on Thursday evening as
May Day violence flared up again in the German capital while
police struggled to bring the situation under control.

Berlin police tried to prevent a further escalation of the
annual Labor Day violence and initially stayed away from
acting against demonstrations that turned violent.

But authorities later fired tear gas and water cannon at
protesters who began throwing bottles and stones at
helmet-clad riot police in the Kreuzberg district and later
began toppling cars and setting them on fire.

"We're trying to get the situation under control," said
Berlin police spokesman Peter Scharfenberg.

German television showed a group of anarchists tipping over
a car in Kreuzberg and celebrating with raised arms as they
jumped on the overturned vehicle, before setting it alight.

A Volkswagen minivan parked nearby was also set on fire,
burning brightly. Left-wing demonstrators have in the past
occasionally set luxury cars ablaze in the district to
protest sharply rising rents and costs in the section of
Berlin that was isolated in the shadows of the Berlin Wall.

By late evening thousands of people were milling about the
district as a tense calm descended with periodic outbreaks
of violence quickly quelled by groups of police deployed on
most street corners. Streets were strewn with shards of
broken glass.

Police said that while there were a number of small
outbursts of violence in Kreuzberg, the situation in many
parts of the city remained peaceful.

They said it was too early to say how many people were
detained or injured. Scharfenberg said there were "a number
of people" detained.

Youths were also seen hurling stones and bottles at police
vehicles before being drenched by the powerful truck-mounted
water cannon.

The disturbances on Thursday evening followed a night of
violence in the early morning hours -- despite the presence
of about 7,500 police officers.

The violence erupted at the end of a peaceful protest by
about 4,000 people just before midnight on Wednesday.

Some 200 anarchists hurled bottles and rocks and set off
fireworks at police, who charged the group and arrested 97.
Street barricades were set ablaze and shop windows smashed.
The rioting lasted until about 3 a.m. on Thursday.
By David Crossland (Reuters)

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