Outrage after marching in front of the house of Saxony’s Health Minister Köpping

Dhe parade with flaming torches in the dark looked martial and was meant to instill fear. Around 30 radical opponents of the Corona measures moved to the home of the Saxon Health Minister Petra Köpping (SPD) near Leipzig on Friday evening, allegedly to express their displeasure with the Saxon government. When the police arrived, the “protesters” tried to flee; However, according to their own statements, the officials were able to stop 15 cars and take the personal details of 25 people who were allegedly involved in the action. The march was another negative highlight of the protests against restrictions that had been swelling again for weeks to break the fourth corona wave. During the second wave in January, two dozen protesters appeared in front of the private home of Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) during the day.

Stefan Locke

Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

At the time, Kretschmer had gotten involved in a discussion, but broke it off when a woman put on a mask with “Reichsbürger” insignia. On Saturday he jumped to the side of Köpping. “We oppose all forces that want to intimidate,” said Kretschmer, who leads a coalition of CDU, Greens and SPD. “Petra Köpping has my full support and solidarity. What happened to her concerns all of us in Saxony!”

Seehofer: Reminiscent of the darkest chapters of German history

Politicians nationwide also reacted with horror. Such organized intimidation reminds him of the darkest chapters in German history, said Acting Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). “These are methods that the SA invented,” said Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens). SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans spoke of a “fascistoid appearance”, the co-chairman Saskia Esken turned to Köpping via Twitter: “Even if the few Hansel try to spread fear and terror: the rational and responsible are the big ones Majority, and it stands by your side.”

In fact, there are always only a few dozen or a few hundred people gathering night after night in different cities. But the large number of elevators declared as “walks” caused problems for Saxony’s police from the start, which is why the incident is now leading to a sharp debate about protecting not only politicians, but also doctors and vaccination teams, who are also exposed to intimidation. Saxony’s SPD explicitly criticized the lack of protective measures. The action on Friday evening was a “disgusting attempt at intimidation – unworthy, disgusting and absolutely intolerable,” said country chief Henning Homann. For months, his party in the government has been demanding stronger controls, more security for employees in vaccination centers and consistent action against “lateral thinkers”. “However, far too little has happened.” The left-wing politician Kerstin Köditz even speaks of a “loss of control”.

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Saxony’s Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) sharply condemned the elevator in front of Köpping’s house. It was “incomprehensible how uninhibitedly hatred and hate speech are spread”. At the same time, Wöller called on the public prosecutor’s office to punish the violations as quickly as possible. “There must be a clear and quick signal from the rule of law.” Because of the precarious corona situation – Saxony has been leading by a wide margin in the number of new infections for weeks – only stationary gatherings of a maximum of ten people are allowed in the Free State. To get around this, demonstrators organize “walks” that they call for via messenger services. Channels of right-wing extremist micro-parties such as “III. Weg” or the group “Freie Sachsen”, which was also classified as right-wing extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which was founded by representatives of the right-wing extremist group “Pro Chemnitz” and the NPD as an organization against the Corona policy.

Numerous marches feared on Monday

Walking dates are regularly communicated on the canals, almost 80 places appear for this Monday alone. However, these groups do not want to be organizers because they fear consequences. “Every citizen is responsible for his own actions,” it says there, while a few lines above the elevator in front of Köpping’s house are trivialized (“peaceful citizens”, “nothing happens”) and rushed against politicians. There is talk of police officers as “Kretschmer’s mercenaries” and “militias” who harass peaceful citizens, the head of government is referred to as a “despot” and his government as a “regime”. There is also false information about an alleged danger from corona vaccinations. AfD boss Tino Chrupalla, who described the torch march in front of Köppings as “absolutely to be condemned”, was recommended in the forum to “shut up”.

Saxony’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution is observing the “lateral thinker” scene with increasing concern. “The idea of ​​violent resistance to democratic rules is now one of the typical standard demands of the movement of corona deniers,” it says. And the situation could not only heat up in Saxony, fears Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU). The “lateral thinker” movement is “dangerous for our free democracy, and it is becoming even more dangerous. Meanwhile, Saxony’s Ministry of the Interior has announced that it will increase protective measures – this also applies to politicians like Petra Köpping.

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