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Brutal use of pepper-spray by German police

Brutal use of pepper-spray by German police

USA-DE pepper-spray.jpg
On the left: A cop sprays students at a sit-in on campus of the UC Davis. On the right: A German officer uses pepper spray against young people sitting on the street. They protested agains a march of neo-nazis. Foto: epa/Jasna Hodzic/The California Aggie, Lionel C. Bendtner

Protesters tried to stop a neo-nazi demonstration in the German state Thuringia. The police took action against them with pepper spray.

Police officers launched a brutal pepper spray operation on Friday, March 31st, in Thuringia’s Sonneberg in response to a demonstration against the right-wing union „Thügida“. Young protesters tried to stop a march of the neo-nazis with a sit-in. Then, Thuringian police officials suddenly chose to use pepper-spray, hitting the peaceful counter-protesters in the face with full force.

The incident occurred shortly after 7 pm. The protesters largely remained on the street after the pepper-spray maneuver, but were then pulled away and some were even beaten by the officers. No orders to leave the road had been made prior to the attack by the officials. It is unclear whether the protesters had to undergo medical treatment afterwards.

Photos: All pictures of the pepper spray operation in Sonneberg

Similarities to the case at the University of California in Davis

The incident in Germany has some similarities to the case at the University of California in Davis. On campus a police officer named John Pike used pepper spray against non-violent students who made a sit-in. The incident caused a world wide outcry about police brutality.

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The „Thügida“ march had to stop for about ten minutes because of the sit-in and had already completed about half of its walk through the town. An official and detailed statement by the Thuringian police concerning the incident has not been released yet.
One official of the police told our editorial staff, however, that the responsible state police inspection in Saalfeld has had knowledge of the incident since Friday. Those affected filed charges against the responsible officers. Now an independent police department will be investigating their colleagues.

Consequences for the police officers

A spokesperson of the police refused to give a more detailed statement due to the ongoing investigations in this case. From a member of the police our staff knows that the excessive use of pepper-spray will probably have consequences for the officers in question.
However, not only the police will talk about this incident, but also Thuringian politicians. The regional parliamentarian Steffen Dittes (Die Linke) is eagerly awaiting an explanation from the Thuringian Ministry of the Interior.

Prime minister of Thuringia wants a report on the incident

The Head of the State of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow (Die Linke), has already made a statement on the Sonneberg incident on Twitter. Users had asked him whether the use of pepper spray against peaceful demonstrators was a part of left internal politics. Ramelow responded that it had to be investigated why things occured the way they did.

Ramelow also warned the outraged public against relying on the photos alone, since those would not allow for a final assessment. „I want to have a report,“ he reassured the public.

More protest against „Thügida“ than participators of the neo-nazi march

Around 70 people participated in the march through the East-German town Sonneberg. According to the Thuringia-based initiative against far-right activity (MOBIT) about 150 people participated in the protests against the right-wing extremists.