Left-wing extremists assaulted a television crew in Berlin on May Day, resulting in a number of injuries, some severe enough to require hospitalisation.
The attack took place in the Kreuzberg district on Friday evening. A team of seven, including three security guards, from the satirical news programme Heute-Show (Today Show), which airs on Germany’s channel ZDF, had been filming as hundreds of demonstrators marched in the area. The march was held in violation of the ongoing lockdown in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The demonstrators shouted chants against the police and threw smoke bombs as officers attempted to disperse the crowd, according to a report by Die Welt.
Although it is illegal in Germany to wear a mask in a demonstration, authorities relented on this regulation on Friday as a coronavirus prevention measure.
After filming, the crew was on their way back to their vehicles when between fifteen and twenty-five extremists attacked them with poles. Five of them were injured, four severely enough to be hospitalised.
According to a statement by ZDF, the assailants were also using blackjacks, and the crew’s sound assistant was kicked in the face with such force that it was likely intended to be lethal.
Police arrested six people afterwards — four men and two women between the ages of 24 and 31 — but all were released the same night. The Prosecutor’s Office said that there was no grounds to detain two of them, and there were “no urgent suspicions” regarding the other four, according to a report by Junge Freiheit.
Barbara Slowik, Berlin’s Chief of Police, said that she did not want to speculate on the political motives of the attack, but said that there will be an investigation.
Horst Seehofer, Germany’s Minister of the Interior, condemned the attack, calling for better protection for journalists. “Freedom of the press is the pillar of our democracy,” he said, saying that state power should be used to prevent violence.
“This is about the basic values of our community,” Seehofer added.
Large demonstrations of extremists also took place in Leipzig, Hamburg, and Braunschweig, as well as in other districts of Berlin. A reporter in Hamburg was also injured after being hit with a bottle by demonstrators.
Left-wing extremists in Germany had vowed to commit acts of violence on May Day, saying that they intended to exploit the chaos introduced by the coronavirus for their own ends, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.