German leftists clash with neo-Nazis at demos
2 May 2006, BERLIN - In violence that has become an annual feature of May Day in Germany, leftist demonstrators clashed Monday in two eastern German provincial cities with parading neo-Nazis as well as with riot police who had formed cordons to protect the rightists.
2 May 2006
BERLIN - In violence that has become an annual feature of May Day in Germany, leftist demonstrators clashed Monday in two eastern German provincial cities with parading neo-Nazis as well as with riot police who had formed cordons to protect the rightists.
In the capital Berlin, a few youths attacked police after nightfall with bottles, stones and firecrackers in Kreuzberg, a central district of Berlin that has been scarred by May Day violence practically every year since 1987.
Eyewitnesses said the Berlin violence was manifestly initiated by aggressive youths, many of whom wore ski masks. Police, who patrolled without riot gear to emphasize they were not seeking a fight, said the violence was small-scale and most leftists did not join in.
May 1 is Labour Day, a public holiday in many European nations.
Far-right groups held Labour Day marches in the eastern German city of Leipzig and the port city of Rostock, prompting counter-demonstrations.
About 5,000 leftists confronted 550 neo-Nazis in Leipzig, blocking part of the authorized route. Police said they were unable to prevent some brawls between the groups. Fires were lit in refuse skips and stones, bottles and fireworks were thrown at police officers.
There was violence in Rostock, where civic officials said about 5,000 people formed a counterdemonstration to a rally by 1,200 supporters of the German Nationalist Democratic Party (NPD). Some 300 leftists were corralled for a period by riot police.
Police said they detained 32 people in the two cities.
Thousands of trade unionists demonstrated Monday for worker rights in a procession ending in a rally addressed by a strike leader next to the landmark Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin.
The head of the public services union ver.di, Frank Bsirske, told 7,500 unionists: "Wherever we look, whether it is treatment of the unemployed or in health and pensions policy, the pressure is on the worker."
His union is currently leading strikes by German state-government and health workers against longer working hours and for pay rises.
Subject: German news