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More than 50 arrested in Berlin Blockupy protest

Thousands were expected to attend the demonstration outside the Finance Ministry by Potsdamer Platz and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on Friday.

Some 10,000 people had signed up to participate in the protest that started at around 7.30am, according to Berlin tabloid B.Z., but less than 1,000 were there by 8am. More than 50 people were arrested by the afternoon and several officers were injured.

Meanwhile some 2,000 police officers – from Berlin as well as Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and other states – were deployed for the day of demonstrations, set to continue on Saturday.

Photo: DPA.

Police said that travellers should expect delays throughout the day to bus services through the centre of the city.

Police were especially concerned about the Blockupy protest given the violence that erupted last year when Blockupy staged an anti-austerity demonstration outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. Some 150 officers were injured during the protest, around 26 people were arrested and multiple police cars were set on fire.

A main point of contention for the Berlin demo is that protesters say the government hasn’t done enough to help refugees.

“As a political agent of the Federal Government, the Ministry symbolizes the politics of social division, which strengthen the right-wing forces in our society,” the group states on its website.

The group explains that they plan to block the ministry’s employees from reaching their workplace, and protesters will also carry symbolic items like “inflatable dinghies, cardboard tanks, fatigues, [and] barrier tape.”

At about 9am, police confronted some 300 demonstrators and used some kind of irritant gas to try to hinder an unauthorized sit-in at Potsdamer Platz, according to Berliner Morgenpost.

Police tweeted at around 11am that they had to arrest some of the protesters for “attacks against our colleagues”.

By about noon, Tagesspiegel reported that the protest at Potsdamer Platz had ended, though after a lunch break, protesters resumed their demonstrations.

They gathered at a location off the Spree River to take a “protest raft tour”, but police stopped their efforts.

Police later tweeted at around 4pm that 52 people had been arrested throughout the day and three officers were injured.

Other protesters started gathering at Alexanderplatz before 5pm with the intent to march to the Brandenburg Gate. Police warned that this could result in traffic jams.

Blockupy complained on Twitter that police had stopped them from staging a ‘pillow fight demonstration’ at Humboldt University.

The Blockupy group has also said they plan to continue their protest on Saturday and will meet one another on Sunday.

The protest planned for Saturday is to combat racism and will take place in the shopping district of Kurfürstendamm. Police are warning locals that there could also be delays to public transportation, Tagesspiegel reports.

Article source: http://www.thelocal.de/20160902/arrests-tear-gas-reported-as-blockupy-demo-starts-in-berlin