Stuttgart – Thousands of “lateral thinkers” roam Berlin and Leipzig, the critics of the Corona rules meet in Mannheim, Karlsruhe and again and again in Stuttgart. Most of them without a mask and distance, very few with a warning from the police. If the conditions are violated, however, the officials would have to act more consistently against the movement and also break up demonstrations, calls for the Green politician Uli Sckerl. “The regulations on the mask requirement and to maintain distance are deliberately undermined,” said the domestic policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group of the dpa. The police fined young people for not wearing masks. In the case of the “lateral thinkers”, on the other hand, they let violations of masks and distance go through en masse.
Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) does not want to leave the criticism standing. “I clearly reject the accusation that the police do not intervene consistently enough,” he said on Wednesday in Stuttgart. The police must respect the fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and at the same time keep an eye on infection protection. It intervenes consistently when conditions are disregarded. Violations at meetings are “extremely dangerous and anti-social,” said Strobl. “That is not acceptable.”
Protest movement consists of many groups
The CDU minister warned in the interior committee of the state parliament against the increasing influence of extremists and constitutional enemies in the ranks of the “lateral thinkers”. The movement is fed by citizens of the Reich, self-administrators, right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists who instrumentalized the demonstrators. The movement is not observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, but the security authorities are continuously analyzing the development.
Sckerl emphasized that the radicalization of the movement and its leaders around the Stuttgart entrepreneur Michael Ballweg are not only responsible for right-wing extremists who join the “lateral thinkers”. “We are also seeing a new form of radicalization, we are seeing a part of society that is becoming more radical,” said Sckerl. He also heads the parliamentary control body in the state parliament, which will hold a special session on December 3rd.
Goll promotes a differentiated image of the demonstrators
According to the FDP legal expert Ulrich Goll, critics of the previous Corona measures are not right-wing extremists per se. That must be made clear in the debate. “Otherwise you risk driving the not yet radicalized participants of such demonstrations into the arms of the right-wing extremists,” said the domestic political spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group. Politicians would have to be moderate in their choice of words.
Supporters of the initiative “lateral thinking 0711” and offshoots of the movement have taken to the streets in numerous German cities against restrictions in the Corona crisis in recent months. There were also counter-demonstrations. A demonstration in Berlin at the end of August and a completely out of hand protest in Leipzig a few weeks ago caused a stir. At least 20,000 “lateral thinkers” had gathered in the city center and after the rally broke up they had moved across the Leipziger Ring.
Police demand clear guidelines for their intervention
But when can the police intervene? And how strong? In these cases, the police are demanding clear guidelines from politicians and city administrations. The “lateral thinkers” are known for not complying with requirements. “You have to have the courage to forbid a registered demonstration if lawyers approve it,” said the Baden-Württemberg state chairman of the police union, Hans-Jürgen Kirstein. “If you keep driving the wrong way, your driver’s license will soon be gone.”
The opposition SPD also calls for a consistent approach: “How can you explain to a married couple walking through the city center that they must strictly adhere to the mask requirement while thousands of people demonstrate close together and without mouth and nose protection at the weekend “, Said the deputy group leader Sascha Binder. Strobl had to present a clear plan to the internal committee on how he wanted to deal with the “lateral thinking movement”.