Dozens detained as German ‘corona party’ escalates

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – Thirty-nine people were detained after police were attacked with “a hail of bottles” at an open-air party in central Frankfurt attended by thousands of youngsters, police in the German city said yesterday.

Five officers were injured in the riot that began at around 3am when police intervened to stop a brawl involving around 30 people in Frankfurt’s historic Opera square.

The square has become a popular gathering place for what local media have dubbed “corona parties” as Germany’s nightlife establishments remain closed to contain the spread of the virus.

Some 3,000 mainly young people filled the square again on Saturday evening but only around 500 to 800 were still there when the unrest started, Frankfurt Police Chief Gerhard Bereswill told a press conference.

A small group of officers moved in to help a bleeding man and end the brawl, but the crowd turned on them.

Police officers wearing face masks are pictured in front of Commerzbank and Helaba headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. PHOTO: AFP

“What I find especially abhorrent is that bystanders cheered and clapped when bottles hit my colleagues,” Bereswill said.

Back-up police then arrived and cleared the square, while facing “a hail of bottles” from the angry crowd, he said.

A total of 39 arrests were made, including one woman.

The others were men aged 17-21 “most of whom have a migrant background”, Bereswill added.

Eight people remain in custody and face possible charges of disturbing the peace.

The incident recalls the unrest that erupted in Stuttgart last month, when police carried out drug checks in the city centre where hundreds of people had gathered.

The crowd attacked officers with stones and bottles, smashed shop windows and plundered stores in an hours-long rampage that stunned Germany.

German police unions and emergency workers have been warning of authorities facing greater hostility as they go about their work.

Tensions have also spilled over from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the United States (US) where officers are accused of being racist.