Thousands of demonstrators on Wednesday protested against the German government’s attempt to enact additional coronavirus restrictions. German police were forced to unleash water cannons and pepper spray to disperse angry crowds in Berlin’s government district, according to Deutsche Welle (DW).
Around 190 protesters were arrested, and nine police officers were injured after clashes in central Berlin. Police said large crowds ignored repeated calls to wear face masks and practice safe social distancing – though none of the requests were followed by protesters.
“Police calling on demonstrators to leave. Lots of booing. Demonstrators want to access cordoned-off area around parliament where new additions to infection law are being debated [at the moment,],” DW’s Nina Haase said.
In a series of tweets, Haase described the chaotic scene outside the Brandenburg Gate. She said demonstrators chanted, “we are the people,” adding that many were singing the national anthem as they held the line.
Police were seen moving in on demonstrators, using large vehicles outfitted with water cannons. She said, “police called on demonstrators to stop attacking police officers.”
The protest was sparked by Germany’s lower and upper houses that passed changes to the country’s existing infection protection law. The changes allow government officials to impose new social distancing restrictions rules on mask-wearing, and regulations of when businesses can open and close.