BERLIN – German police unleashed water cannon on Wednesday in an effort to scatter thousands of protesters angry over plans to empower Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to enforce restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Protesters near Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate threw bottles at police and set off smoke bombs, witnesses reported. Riot police detained some protesters while firing volleys of water and urging crowds by loudspeaker to disperse.
Demonstrators were fuming about legislation due to be passed by parliament that could allow the federal government to impose curbs on social contact, rules on mask-wearing, drinking alcohol in public, shutting shops and stopping sports events.
Although most Germans accept the latest “lockdown light” to tackle a second wave of the coronavirus, critics say the law gives the national government too much power and endangers citizens’ civil rights without the approval of parliament.