German city Essen marches against right-wing violence
Thousands of people in Essen have taken to the streets to protest against neo-Nazi violence. The march is the latest in a series of anti-racism rallies following violent anti-immigrant protests in Chemnitz.
Organizers of the Essen march claimed Thursday's event was attended by 5,000 people who walked through the city center. Police estimated several thousand people took part in the rally that was "totally relaxed."
"Together we stand for cosmopolitanism, democracy, humanism and tolerance. We will not leave the street for the right," the protesters said.
The demonstration was the latest in a series of anti-racism rallies that have been organized following violent anti-immigrant protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz that were sparked by the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old German man in August.
The demonstrators united under the motto "wirsindmehr — Aufstehen gegen rechte Hetze," or "We are more — standing up against right-wing agitation."
The demonstrations were sparked by a deadly brawl that broke out in the German city of Chemnitz in the early hours of Sunday (August 26). What started out as a war of words resulted in a 35-year-old man being stabbed to death. Hours later, spontaneous, anti-migrant protests took over the streets of Chemnitz.
A German-Cuban man was stabbed in an altercation involving 10 people, several of whom were of "various nationalities," police sources said. The victim, named only as Daniel H., was apparently well-known among various political groups in the area. Two men in their 30s were also stabbed and seriously injured, and a 22-year-old Iraqi and 23-year-old Syrian are in custody over the killing.
Police reinforcements called
By Sunday afternoon, some 800 people had gathered to protest the man's death, including far-right groups. Authorities said the crowd was largely uncooperative and threw bottles at police officers. Police reinforcements had to be called in from nearby cities. The mobilizations were spontaneous and are thought to have surfaced following calls to demonstrate on social media.
German authorities said that that far-right groups spread misinformation on the internet. Among the false claims was that the victim of the knife attack died protecting a woman.
Protests and counterprotests
Thousands of far-right and counterdemonstrators faced off in a second day of protest Monday. Several people were injured as objects and fireworks were hurled. Video footage showed the far-right "Pro Chemnitz" movement holding a banner with a quote from early 20th century poet Anton Günther reading "German and free we aim to be."
'No place for Nazis'
Counter-demonstrators denouncing right-wing extremism also took to the streets of Chemnitz. Among the protesters were Antifa, who clashed with right-wing demonstrators.