Protesters clashed with police in Berlin over government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and in defiance of a ban on demonstrations.
Dozens of planned protests were banned ahead of the weekend but demonstrators began gathering at set points throughout the German capital early on Sunday.
Berlin police department, which had more than 2,000 officers on the beat in the city this weekend, said that officers were harassed and attacked by protesters.
“They tried to break through the police cordon and pull out our colleagues,” it said on Twitter, adding that police had to use irritants and batons.
The protests, including in Berlin’s Charlottenburg neighborhood and the Tiergarten park, led to multiple arrests, police said. As the crowds made their way toward the Brandenburg Gate, police warned via loudspeaker that they would use water cannons if protesters did not disperse.
Germany eased many of its coronavirus restrictions in May, including reopening of restaurants and bars. Still, many activities, such as dining indoors at restaurants or staying in a hotel, require proof that an individual is either fully vaccinated, has recovered from the virus or can show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.
The Querdenker movement, which has become the largest and most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany, has at times drawn thousands of supporters to its demonstrations in Berlin and elsewhere across the country. It has brought together a disparate mix of demonstrators, including people opposing vaccinations, coronavirus deniers, conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists.
Earlier this year, Germany’s domestic intelligence service warned the movement was becoming increasingly radical, putting some of its adherents under surveillance.
The protests follow other widescale demonstrations against coronavirus measures around Europe. Thousands have turned out to protest vaccination requirements in France over the past three weekends, at times clashing with the police, and about 80,000 people protested in cities across Italy last weekend.