Local police in the German town of Bad Kreuznach slammed members of the youth wing of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) for handing out small bottles of pepper spray to locals to help them defend against potential attackers.
The AfD’s youth wing Junge Alternative (JA) handed out around 150 pepper spray canisters in the centre of the town. Damian Lohr, a spokesman for JA and a member of the regional parliament, said the main purpose of the action was to help locals to defend against animals but also attacks from people in “emergency situations”, regional public broadcaster Südwestrundfunk reports.
The spokesman for the Mainz police district Rinaldo Roberto criticised the group saying the use of pepper spray against other people can be treated as a crime of bodily injury but noted that it can be justified in self-defence after an appropriate court ruling.
The spark for the pepper spray distribution was an incident that occurred in the town’s Kreuznacher Park in which several large groups of asylum seekers fought with each other. As a result of the mass brawl, police have banned anyone from entering three of the town’s parks at night.
The prosecutor’s office has now launched a formal investigation into the giveaway.
Spokesman Roberto dismissed the mass brawls saying they were “personal” incidents and not indicative of a broader security problem in the town.
AfD politician Uwe Junge, who currently serves as chairman of the Rhineland-Palatinate Defence Department, applauded the distribution of the pepper spray saying he hoped further campaign actions continued to distribute even more.
After the sex attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve in 2015 and the rising number of sex attacks in Germany and neighbouring Austria, pepper spray has become a desired item. Last year, the popular German drug store DW started to stock pepper spray following high demand from members of the public.
The JA action is also not the first time activists have handed out pepper spray to locals. The hipster-right Identitarian Movement, also known as Generation Identity, has handed out pepper spray in various cities in Germany and Austria.
The AfD is currently polling in third position behind Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and former European Parliament President Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats (SPD). They are running on a platform of economic liberalisation, anti-Islamisation, and anti-mass migration.
Germany, INSA poll:
SPD-S&D: 24% ↓
LINKE-LEFT: 10% ↑
FDP-ALDE: 8% ↓
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) August 31, 2017
The election will be the first time the AfD, who were only formed in 2012, will enter the country’s national parliament.