Americans are urged to avoid potentially violent protest against coronavirus measures in Kaiserslautern
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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — U.S. military officials and German police are urging Americans to avoid downtown Kaiserslautern on Saturday, where a planned demonstration against government-imposed coronavirus prevention measures could turn violent.
About 300 participants had registered for the protest, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as of Thursday afternoon, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz said on its Facebook page. Protesters are expected to march on a route between Messeplatz and Stiftsplatz.
About 450 police officers are expected to be on duty and ask that “military members … stay away” from the area, according to the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron at Vogelweh.
The rally is part of the “Querdenker” movement, a group that has adopted the German term for critical thinking to protest federal and state government decisions to adopt restrictions during the pandemic, including social distancing and mask requirements while exercising the right of assembly. The group has staged protests in Stuttgart, Berlin and other cities, where they have demanded an end to the lockdown.
“The (German police expect) a lot of demonstrators from the right and left wing scene which will make the demonstration probably aggressive and violent," the military police squadron said in its Facebook post.
A demonstration earlier this month in Leipzig drew around 20,000 participants, thousands more than expected, according to German news reports.
Coming days after Germany went into a second, partial lockdown, the rally turned violent, with projectiles and fireworks thrown at police, German news agency Deutsche Welle reported.