Tens of Thousands Protest in Germany, France Against COVID-19 Vaccine Passports
German police had banned nine planned demonstrations for Aug. 28, including one from the Stuttgart-based Querdenker movement, the most visible anti-lockdown movement in Germany. A court ruled in favor of allowing one event, planned for 500 people, on Aug. 28 and 29.
More than 2,000 police officers were stationed around the city to respond to those who showed up despite the protest bans. At one Aug. 28 protest in Mitte, Germany, German media reported that police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd. The crowd eventually thinned as it began to rain.
Demonstrators in Dusseldorf held banners that read, “Stop police arbitrariness,” “Protect the fundamental right to demonstrate,” and “Repel attacks on freedom of assembly,” German media outlet Deutsche Welle reported. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is planning an assembly law that its critics say limits their ability to protest. The state government said that the proposed law is needed to prevent demonstrations from turning violent.
BREAKING – 🇩🇪Germany: Massive police violence reported in Berlin during today’s peaceful anti-COV_ID protest pic.twitter.com/kYGwJCyhIC
— Mr. Wolf (@mole_cola) August 28, 2021
Similar protests took place in Berlin in early August, which ended in clashes with police and hundreds of people detained.
In France, the Interior Ministry said that around 160,000 people took to the streets on Aug. 28 in the seventh weekend of protests within the country. Demonstrators argued that vaccine passports that were recently approved by the French Parliament unfairly restrict those who aren’t vaccinated.
“The vaccine isn’t the solution,” retiree Helene Vierondeels said in an interview with France24. “We should rather be stopping the closures of hospital beds and continuing the barrier measures.”
“We aren’t laboratory rats,” one 11-year-old boy said.
“We live in a free country. There are no figures that justify mass vaccinations,” the boy’s father said.
France’s vaccine passport, which includes a QR code, allows businesses to scan to determine whether an individual has been fully vaccinated or has a recent negative COVID-19 test. The rule applies to restaurants, gyms, and theaters, as well as some long-distance travel.
Vaccine passports were also rolled out in New York and San Francisco. A number of New York-based businesses filed lawsuits against the city’s vaccine passport mandate recently, arguing that it would impact their profits.
Some Republican-led states have approved legislation or issued orders in 2021 to restrict the usage of vaccine passports or similar systems.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.