“These are shameful images, which have a powerful effect,” he says.
Geisel was criticized by the committee for the apparent lack of preparation by the city authorities and for downplaying before the protests the role of the far right, including the NPD and AfD political parties and their ability to incite protesters to participate.
About 38,000 people, including extremists, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists, took part in the protests, which were allowed to take place after an eleven-hour decision by a judge overturned a ban on the police.
Police tried to halt the protest after two hours on Saturday because participants refused to wear masks or obey distancing rules. In the early evening, hundreds of demonstrators broke away from the main protests and gathered on the steps of the Reichstag building, seat of the German parliament, and attempted to enter.Many of those involved wore clothing and displayed flags linked to the far-right anti-Semitic movement Reichsbürger, which rejects the legitimacy of the modern German state.
Berlin Police President Barbara Slowik said in Monday’s meeting that she was also ashamed of the footage and that in the future security barriers and police presence in front of the building would be stepped up.
She said committee officers tried to stop a large group of people from moving from the main protest to the lawn outside the Reichstag building, when a spokesperson for the group called the protesters from the Reichsbürger to “storm the Reichstag steps en bloc”.
Police were taken by surprise, she said. Slowik described the group as being made up of Reichsbürgers “as well as a few protesters who describe themselves as patriots or civil defense”.
Condemnation of the incident escalated on Monday. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel called him “shameful” and said the protesters had abused the right to peaceful protest.
“The result has been shameful images in the Reichstag, which are unacceptable, and anti-democrats trying to make themselves heard on the steps of our democratic parliament,” said Steffen Seibert.
He hailed as “the quick and courageous” three policemen who were seen pushing the crowds back from the entrance to the Reichstag until reinforcements arrived.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier invited the three officers to Bellevue Palace in Berlin to thank them for their work and called the protesters’ actions “despicable”. “We will not tolerate any anti-democratic smear campaign or denigration of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Bundestag,” he added.
Resistance to coronavirus restrictions in Germany has increased in recent weeks. However, according to a survey by the Forsa research institute, 91% of those polled said they had “no sympathy” for the protests.
The Reichstag building cannot be overstated as a symbol of German democracy. It was completed in 1894 to house the legislative body of the German Empire, then the parliament. An arson attack on him in February 1933 served as an excuse for the Nazis under Adolf Hitler to seize absolute power and found the Nazi regime.
After German unification in October 1990, it was rebuilt by British architect Norman Foster, who emphasized a new era of parliamentary democracy and transparency by renaming it with a glass dome, and it became the seat of the German Parliament or Bundestag in 1999. The Dome is generally open to visitors and is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.