Cologne, Germany. Officials in Germany are taking no chances as Police prepare for massive demonstrations against a fast growing anti-migrant party, some call “nazi-like” in its platform and goals.
Police officers are being deployed in Cologne, Germany, in case of violence at left-wing protests against an Alternative fuer Deutschland (AFD) party conference there.
The party is a populist right-wing and anti-Islam party, that will seek to choose a new co-leader to take it up to a general election this year. Local demonstrators on Saturday carried banners saying “Block the Nazis,” with Police expecting 50,000 protesters and have already deployed 4,000 officers to prevent violence.
Cologne’s Police chief Juergen Mathias said information indicated that there would be “several thousand left-wing extremists” and “several hundred violent people” among the protesters. A police officer was hit in the face while escorting party members to the venue.
About 100 people tried to break through a police line on the opposite side of the Rhine river from where the conference is taking place outside a hotel, 50-60 people blocked access to the venue using a chain of bicycles. Police broke this up, leading to skirmishes with protesters.
The AFD pushed Angela Merkel’s governing conservatives in to third place in a regional election last year, and hopes to build on its success by getting its first seats in the federal parliament.The party’s reputation has been damaged by a local leader’s comments in January that the Holocaust memorial in Berlin was a “memorial of defeat.”