Germany: Thousands prevent neo-Nazi march through center of Magdeburg
Thousands of citizens in the German town of Magdeburg prevented a neo-Nazi march through the center of town today. Approximately 800 neo-Nazis carrying black flags had to settle for marching through the Salbke quarter on the town's southern border.
The neo-Nazis changed their route at the last moment once they realized their original plan to march through the very center of town didn't have the slightest chance of success, as they were outnumbered by their opponents. About 3 000 counter-protesters blocked the neo-Nazis' planned route, while another approximately 9 000 people protested against the march at locations off of the planned route.
Counter-protesters clashed with police more than once, who used water cannon, mounted officers, tear gas and truncheons. Several people were injured by intervening police. Stones were thrown and fireworks and other pyrotechnics were exploded. Someone also set a municipal garbage container on fire in the area around the local Christian Democratic Union headquarters. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that at least two demonstrators were arrested.
Police deployed more than 2 000 men to monitor the event, making it one of the biggest police actions in the history of Saxony-Anhalt. Their main aim was to prevent clashes between the neo-Nazis and the counter-demonstrators.
The ultra-right extremists chose to march through the town at a time when Magdeburg is commemorating the 68th anniversary of the town's destruction during WWII. During an air raid on 16 January 1945, around 2 500 people perished there and a significant portion of the town was burnt down. In previous years neo-Nazis have repeatedly taken advantage of the anniversary to hold demonstrations.
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