Progressive sections across Germany have condemned the police violence unleashed on thousands of people who had gathered for a protest in Dusseldorf on Saturday, June 26. The police violently dispersed the rally called by the ‘Alliance to Stop the Assembly Act of North Rhine-Westphalia’ against a bill proposed in the Landtag of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to ban militant mobilizations and protests. Political parties including the German Communist Party (DKP), Die Linke (The Left), Socialist German Workers Youth (SDAJ) and Communist Party of Germany (KPD) condemned the police action against the protesters. The protest rally on Saturday was attended by various progressive sections including communists, leftists, Antifa, student-youth groups, anti-imperialists, trade unionists, climate activists and football fans.
The Christian Democratic Union-Free Democratic Party (CDU-FDP) coalition government in NRW proposed the law on the pretext of curbing violent far-right demonstrations in the State during this pandemic period. However, proposals in the bill which call to penalize mobilizations where participants wear some sort of uniform are likely to target not only neo-nazi groups, but also Antifa groups and football fans. Such a bid by the NRW State authorities has been slammed by progressive sections as a move to curtail freedom of assembly and the right to protest in the State. Several progressive groups in the State have formed a platform called the Alliance to Stop the Assembly Act of NRW to resist the bill.
According to reports, over a hundred protesters including many journalists were injured in the police action on Saturday. The police repeatedly attacked the Antifa block in the demonstration with batons and pepper spray.
Protesting the attack, the Alliance to Stop the Assembly Act of NRW said, “Today was the trailer of what will happen when the planned law comes into force…Today clearly shows us how important it is to defend democratic fundamental rights and to prevent further tightening of the laws!”
In their statement of solidarity with the protesters, the committees of the DKP and SDAJ in NRW said that “the tightening of the Assembly Act and the domestic policy of the right-wing conservative state government in North Rhine-Westphalia highlights their intention that democratic and progressive protest against the state should be weakened and prevented”.
“The ongoing shifting of the crisis brings costs onto us, the wage-dependent population, a more aggressive foreign policy and, ultimately, a further dismantling of our basic democratic rights will be made possible in this way. This is part of the tightening of constitutional protection law and the legal basis of the federal police, which is played down as “modernization,” as well as an increase in repression during the corona pandemic,” the statement added.
Amid Rabieh, domestic policy spokesperson for Die Linke in NRW, said that “the behavior of the police was clearly disproportionate and allegedly illegal. Instead of protecting the gathering and ensuring that it ran smoothly, armed officials have broken into our demonstration block and have hundreds of people taking to the streets for their basic rights for many hours, no matter whether it is a serious failure of the police leadership or a planned strategy.”
Die Linke in NRW also said that it will seek legal action against the excessive and out of hand police operation in Dusseldorf.