Leipzig #1212

Jane Whyatt

Journalists and camera crews defended themselves with gas masks as violence flared and teargas flowed in the streets of Leipzig.  Then came the smoke from burning barricades. Glass bus shelters were smashed and cobblestones ripped up to use as missiles. The camera crews captured it all.

Three far-right anti-immigration groups marched along different routes, with hundreds of police in riot gear keeping them away from the left-wing antifascists.
This Saturday demonstration follows more than one year of smaller Monday night actions in Leipzig, Dresden and other east German cities. They have been marked by a growing number of aggressive attacks on journalists.

In Leipzig’s Karl Liebknecht Strasse, closed to traffic and blocked by blazing dustbins, one video journalist, who did not want to be named, told ECPMF reporter Jane Whyatt:

The police were really beating up a demonstrator with a truncheon and I tried to film it but then three policemen came over and knocked my camera away and tried to hold on to me and then another policeman gave me back the camera and said that obviously they couldn’t tell that I was Press and they thought I was a violent demonstrator. And I got in the way of their police work, that was the reason given. And I said that I have my job to do too and they shoved me again and I went over to the corner.

Spiegel TV”s Vanessa Schlesier told ECPMF ” There are some problems with press freedom in Germany and I would like to say more about it when I am less busy” before moving off with her camera crew in the direction of the next incident.

One of the hundreds of police in riot gear was taunted by a young man with a bottle in his hand. The officer ran after him, hitting him with his baton. When ECPMF”s Jane Whyatt tried to take a picture of it, the police officer pushed her away. She was not hurt.

Leipzig police spokesman Andreas Loepke gave ECPMF an interview, but it was interrupted by a demonstrator heckling, shouting that the Saxony police are right wing, that they only protect the extreme right.  Mr Loepke retorted that the man should watch his interview on MDR television (regional TV) if he wanted to know more.

He told ECPMF”s Jane Whyatt that the operation to protect the right of assembly for the three right-populist groups had ended and they were on their way home,  “Now his forces are protecting the right of assembly of the counter-demonstrators, with support from police from other federal states and from the national police or Bundespolizei.”

He said irritant gas had been used against demonstrators to create a space and make them retreat, and that there would certainly be injuries as cobblestones had been thrown, but he could not say how many.

Later the police reported that around forty officers had been hurt.