German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s top security officer voiced an outburst of violence over the weekend in the southwestern city of Stuttgart on Monday, where hundreds of people attacked shops, vehicles and police officers after a stop-and-search for drugs.
Authorities say 25 people were arrested during Saturday’s turmoil and 19 police officers were injured.
Merkel’s spokesman said the scenes were “repugnant and should be strongly condemned.”
“Anyone participating in such outbreaks of violence, brutally attacking police officers and destroying and looting shops can in no way justify it,” Steffen Seibert said Monday.
Seibert thanked police officers across the country and said they “should know that the German government and millions of people are behind you.”
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who called for a “quick and severe” punishment of those responsible, said violence against officers and rescuers has been on the rise for some time. He complained of “contempt of the police through words, and contempt can be just as hurtful as physical violence.”
Seehofer also suggested that he may file a criminal complaint against a left-wing newspaper columnist who had recently scorned the police, but his spokesperson later said officials were still investigating the legal implications of such action. Opposition legislators warned that government intervention through a newspaper column can be seen as interference in freedom of the press.
The disturbances started after the officers arrested a 17-year-old on suspicion of drug possession, as hundreds of people partyed outside around 11:30 PM. Saturday, said the police. Bystanders started throwing stones and bottles, and smaller groups ran through the surrounding streets to break shop windows, police said.
Police said 40 businesses had been vandalized, nine had been looted and 12 police vehicles were damaged before the police got the situation under control.
The police have said that the violence has no clear political motivation. They said that the suspect who had quit initially was a white German citizen. Of the two dozen people arrested, half had a German passport and half were citizens of another country.
Authorities said one of those arrested was ordered pending possible charges and asked formal warrants to detain seven more – citizens of Germany, Croatia, Iraq, Portugal and Latvia. This includes a 16-year-old boy accused of attempted manslaughter after allegedly kicking a student who was beaten after criticizing the unrest.
Other people detained during the unrest were released.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.