A number of videos from the PEGIDA protest that descended into violence on Saturday apparently show ‘journalists’ throwing fireworks, not protesters, according to claims made by PEGIDA activists.
The origins of the fireworks have yet to be conclusively proven, yet their use precipitated the march being halted by German riot police before being violently broken up with officers charging in, water cannon being used, and tear gas being deployed.
Videos shared on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – watched over a million times in the past couple of days – sho an angered man talking with police at the protest, criticising them for allowing a man to pass through the police line because he had a press pass, despite having been seen him throwing fireworks.
Before a police officer demands the video recording is terminated, a man says to the police officers: “Hey, this one! Please hold him to check his identity. he has just thrown a firecracker, the one you just let through, wearing a grey coat… he had just thrown a firecracker and you let him through, what is happening here? What’s going on?”.
Another individual, out of shot, shouts to the officer: “the press is throwing fire crackers around!”.
A second video shows a firework going off in police lines, apparently having appeared there without being thrown from the area of the protest first.
The use of agent provocateurs, or plain-clothes officers to incite violence so police have a pretext to shut down protests is a controversial one in Germany. Many of those shocked at the closing down of the protest on Saturday have referred back to a case in 2011 where a peaceful protest around a building site suddenly and unexpectedly turned violent.
Activists at the time pointed to those who instigated the violence wearing identical police-issue boots, and left-wing Berlin paper Die Tageszeitung even quoted an anonymous police officer who had “hinted” at the use of ” tactical provocateurs”.
While the aggressive police tactics and video purporting to show foul play at the protest have generated significant interest on social media, the controversy has been ignored by the German mainstream media with just one magazine — Compact — reporting the accusations.
The magazine said “It would not be the first time the state and the conformist press had brought about events themselves, in order to push around their political opponents”.