It’s really strange. Hardly anything happens around here normally. But once I’m away for just a few days, many things do. Not only did the political landscape in Germany change once more – for both bad and good – with Franz Müntefering resigning and Edmund Stoiber going back where he came from – but there was a busy weekend in Göttingen as well.
The NPD, a neo-Nazi party, had announced a demonstration in Göttingen. While it’s of course their constitutional right to demonstrate, many people were far from happy with that idea and tried to disturb the demonstration. As these kinds of conflicts aren’t totally unusual a lot of police were present as well. While it’s notoriously difficult to get any numbers of these things, there were said to be around 200-400 Nazi demonstrators, 3000-5000 peaceful protestors, 500-1000 aggressive protestors and almost 4000 policemen. So the yproportions weren’t exactly encouraging for anyone.
But still the protestors against the demonstration managed to block the planned route for the event with burning barricades and other things which led to the route to be changed to a much shorter one by officials. My friends said that the police appeared to be quite disorganised which was important for those diversions to actually work. Allegedly around €150000 of damage have been caused by the burning barricades but that’ll probably be easily trumped by the bill for the massive police force.
It’s all a bit absurd, but I won’t complain, as long as the result is OK. Apparently high levels of violence going along with demonstrations makes it less likely that similar demonstrations will be OKed by the state for the costs and danger to the public coming with them. While that’s quite good in this case, I do find it a bit scary in general as it makes it possible for third parties to suppress people’s ability to voice their concerns in public.