Walpurgisnacht celebrations end in 61 arrests

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Walpurgisnacht celebrations in Berlin have resulted in 61 arrests. The traditional celebrations of Walpurgisnacht might vary from region to region- I'm not even sure it's celebrated throughout Germany. But in eastern Germany, it is the night when the witches meet at the Brockenberg in the Harz mountains to await the Spring. Celebrations include bonfires, Halloween-type costumes, excessive drinking and often times pranks.

 

In Berlin specifically, there's a tradition of rioting mostly by anarchists, leftists, and punks. During last nights festivities, 61 arrests were made throughout the course of the evening as police were doused in beer, thrown insults and were made the targets of flying beer bottles. Apparently the most livley part of the city was Boxhagener Platz where people gathered under the demonstation motto "Gegen Yuppisierung und Umstrukturierung - G8 verhindern", while police noted that other parts of the city were quieter than previous years.

 

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who was out in Berlin last night what the atmosphere was like.

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Hello, I am new here, and to Germany - been in Berlin for 3 months.

 

I will make a longer, more proper introduction next time - but for now I wanted to share my experience with this so called, and pointless "chaostage"

 

A friend and I decided to go check out the 'May Day' festivities in a notoriously Turkish neighborhood of Berlin called Kreutzberg. When we got there, the mood was good, plenty of bands playing, lots of food for sale form private vendors and carts. It was a little crowded in certain areas, and felt a bit volatile near the stages of the bands playing. The sun set around 9pm as it usually does in summer in this part of the world, and we sought out some dinner. By this time a few of the smaller stages had been taken down to give way to some of the larger acts located in more open territory to keep the crowd under control. After a 30 minute walk to an Indian restaurant, the only place open on a mile long street, we had to talk our way into the establishment and prove we weren't there to cause trouble. That should have served as enough warning to go somewhere else, but we were hungry. Dinner was great and we had seats with a perfect view of the crowd outside. At one point, the staff of the restaurant got a little nervous when a large group of hooded people wearing all black began to congregate outside. Most of the people working at this place were massive, body builder types, and didn't look like they had much tolerance for the goings on outside, so I felt pretty safe there. Until, we saw the dumpster being rolled down the street, stop right in front of the restaurant and suddenly explode in a blaze of fire. The shock of this scene was only enhanced when rioters began to throw Molotov cocktails and tear down street signs RIGHT in front of this restaurant. The staff of this place locked all of the doors and the windows and barricaded us all inside. My biggest fear was that the rioters would break the windows and send flying glass onto us patrons. There was a lot of glass and a lot of rioter, so I felt this was a real possibility.

 

This chaos went on for a good 35 minutes, with people going crazy in the street lighting things on fire and launching firework at each other, when the police finally showed up. They began their crowd disbursement techniques, to no avail. This upset the rioters and they began throwing small explosives at the police and into the series of fires they had created. It was cat and mouse for almost an hour, police put out a fire, take a couch away from the crowd, dodge projectiles coming form all over. People sanding just outside the window from where we were all barricaded throwing bottles and rocks at the police. Finally the dominant color of police attire outside changed from green to black when the special forces arrived. These people don't take no for an answer, it was seek and destroy as you could see the moral of the rioters dropping as they watched their comrades dragged to the ground, lightly beaten and dragged off to a nearby building that became a makeshift prison. After about 20 minutes of special forces treatment and all of a sudden, no one wanted to riot anymore. So at this point the staff felt it was safe enough to let those of us who would actually request release, back into the streets. We waited until it looked halfway civil outside, and walked very fast, eyes to the floor, in the opposite direction of the last known rioter location.

 

I made it back to the U-Bahn station safely, but not without nearly dodging a few big fights in the street and trying to avoid eye contact with a few 'violence sentries' looking for an excuse to start another riot or fight in the areas that were not so police occupied.

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Thanks for the eyewitness account. Glad you made it out of there safely. :)

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What a crap ending to a good day out. Glad you made it home safely.

 

ps: welcome to TT :)

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Welcome to TT mate.

 

the riots were milder this year than expected as it was the 20th aniversary or the first real riots.

 

Most people stay clear of Kruezburg on May 1st. as there is fights/riots there every year for the past 20.

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Having been in Munich for years it seems odd to hear of Germans showing any emotion other than impatience, but the British papers were saying the majority of these rioters are trouble tourists just following the G8 or whatever else they can use as an excuse for a bit of 'fun'. They deserve what they get from the police.

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a notoriously Turkish neighborhood of Berlin called Kreutzberg.

Why does having a large so called Ausländer population make a district in itself "notorius" ?

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I was in the western part of Kreuzberg, close to Bergmannstrasse, for a few hours around sunset and completely forgot about the riots until someone asked me whether I saw anything the next day. I saw nothing-- but I can't imagine anything would happen in that area, anyway.

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Why does having a large so called Ausländer population make a district in itself "notorius" ?

Spend some time there. I used a mild adjective.

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The Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, which in previous years was traditonally a source of unrest on Walpurgisnacht (April 30th), was completely sealed off, and the floodlights in the neighbouring stadium were turned on, as a result of which there was no trouble whatsoever - in contrast to previous years. Slightly disorientating, because normally when you get such high concentrations of police, including delegations from other Bundesländer, something is bound to happen.

 

(I think I shall have to move to Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg is losing its exciting edge...)

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"Gegen Yuppisierung und Umstrukturierung - G8 verhindern"

Catchy slogan - I can really hear them chanting that at the barricades.

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Spend some time there. I used a mild adjective.

Actually, I think the problem was that you used an adverb rather than an adjective. "Notoriously Turkish neighbourhood" means something entirely different from "Notorious Turkish neighbourhood".

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the riots made the main evening news here in the UK last night, not much said though - blamed protesters against the G8 same as was mentioned the papers did.

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It was a great day in Kreuzberg. Everyone I saw were happy , drinking watching the bands having fun..

Went to an awesome techno, electro party in a beergarden near Gorilitzer bahnhof..

 

Saw a few minor clashes between protestors and police nothing like what the chap mentioned before..

Last time I was here for Mayday some 6 years ago it was much worse.

 

I just wasnt interested in watching demonstations when the bands and the DJ's and party people were as cool as they were...

 

That was simply one of the best day/nights Ive ever had in Berlin cant wait for next year..

 

I was at Mauerpark too the night before and there were a few people there but it was nothing special I thought..

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Just wondering...

 

 

Finally the dominant color of police attire outside changed from green to black when the special forces arrived.

You sure you're not getting confused with Paris or somewhere? The Berlin police uniform is green, including that of the Bereitschaftspolizei (riot police). It's conceivable there might have been some Bundespolizei or police drafted in from Brandenburg as backups, both of which now have blue uniforms, though I didn't see any of either when I passed throught the area at about 7pm. And usually when it comes to violently restraining demonstrators / rioters, it's the Berlin police who always do the dirty work.

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Most people stay clear of Kruezburg on May 1st. as there is fights/riots there every year for the past 20.

the last 20 years ? 95,96,and 97 I remember being in Pberg. I worked for the news filming it. Thats how I know. And the night before on the 30th March was in Pberg, Kollwitzplatz. (94,95, not sure 96?) And then it changed one year to Friedrichshain, and then landed finely at Mauerpark. (I have footage from these times.)

 

people avoiding Kreuzberg? no way.. it became a tourist attraction. One year it involved younger-children starting the 'riots', street children. Police were running around with children on their shoulders.

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I do so hate the leftist and anarchist pointless criminal behaviour. They are not demonstrating, have no political stance to support or evidently give a damn about anything. Rubber bullets, water cannons and tazers should be utilized to hopefully prevent future activity. How ironic, everytime someone has a merit point and demonstration, these losers show up to wreak havoc. It damages the overall meaning of the peaceful demonstrators and negates their influence. Peaceful demonstration over global warming, G8 and ecology matters result in vandalism, violence and burning automobiles. Yeh, that really makes a point.

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