German police say they stopped May Day deaths

2nd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

The rightwing group, in particular, had shown readiness to use "naked violence."

Hamburg/Berlin -- The May Day clashes between left- and rightwing demonstrators in Hamburg would have resulted in deaths without police intervention, a spokesman said Friday.

Surveying the wreckage in the northern German port a day after the riot, Peter Born, who heads a police special team, said one clash between around 100 extremely violent demonstrators on each side had been particularly unnerving.

"If the police had not thrown themselves in between the groups, there would have been deaths. That is my firm conviction," Born said.

The rightwing group, in particular, had shown readiness to use "naked violence," Born said.

Hamburg police detained more than 250 and said around 50 would be brought before the courts.

In Berlin, where May Day riots have taken place almost every year for the past two decades, the traditional street celebrations in the Kreuzberg district passed off largely peacefully until Police Chief Dieter Glietsch arrived to assess the situation.

A group of leftists recognized him and launched an attack. Officers guarding Glietsch took him to a protected vehicle, which was pelted with missiles. The police chief was unharmed and spoke to a press conference Friday.

Berlin police detained 138 and said 92 would be hauled before the magistrates. Some 90 officers were hurt.

In Nuremberg, also the scene of clashes between the left and right wing, police detained 48.

The clashes in all three cities tended to center on rallies by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which were opposed by leftwingers.

In Hamburg, the NPD parade went ahead, hours late, after police cleared a path through the crowd using powerful water jets mounted on tanker trucks.

Police counted 6,600 demonstrators opposed to the anti-immigrant NPD, which has claimed to be a voice of the German poor and demanded to hold a Labor Day parade in an old-time working-class district of Hamburg.

In Nuremberg, 1,500 NPD supporters paraded through empty streets but were pelted with eggs and bottles during a final rally, as some of nearly 10,000 anti-NPD demonstrators managed to get within throwing range after scuffles with police lines. Four police officers were injured.


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