On Saturday afternoon, thousands of protestors gathered across Germany for a series of anti-racism demonstrations denouncing systemic racism and police brutality. Organized under the umbrella of SILENT DEMO 06.06.2020, the events spread across 20+ cities reaching all corners of the country, in solidarity with ongoing protests happening in the United States.
The highest attendance however? Munich, Bavaria’s capital, with a total head count of over 25,000, a substantial lead over other large German cities like Berlin (where participants totalled 15,000), Hamburg (where 14,000 participated), and both Cologne and Düsseldorf, who reported 10,000 protestors each.
For a population still grappling with a global pandemic, the images are both powerful and divisive. Thousands of snapshots flooded social media throughout the weekend depicting seas of black-clad protestors raising signs proclaiming “MUNICH HATES RACISM”, “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE” and the omnipresent declaration of “BLACK LIVES MATTER”… all poignantly set against the background of Munich’s Königsplatz, where less than a century ago, mass rallies would have been held by the Nazi Party.
Critics have been quick to denounce the mass gathering at a time when COVID-19 remains a relevant issue of public health and safety. For participants however, the event marked a necessary stand against racism and injustice, not just in the United States, but also at home in Germany, with many carrying signs stating “Racism is a pandemic too”.
Regardless of whether you stand in support of the protest or not, below you’ll find a recap of Munich’s historic anti-racism protest that took place on Saturday, June 6.
Munich’s Anti-Racism Protest on June 6: Facts, Figures & a Recap
Word of Munich’s protest began to circulate about a week prior to the event on Saturday. Information was largely disseminated through social media and the messaging app Telegram, where an organizing team spearheaded by four local women communicated event details directly to a group chat with over 1200 participants.
The event’s official start was slated for 3pm in Königsplatz. However, an official press release from Munich police stated that the limit had been reached even an hour before the protest began.
Efforts were made early on to barricade the protest area after the limit was reached. As thousands more entered the protest vicinity however, police made the decision to open up the barriers and further block traffic up until Karolinenplatz. This helped to accommodate the event’s exceptional attendance, which eventually totalled about 25,000 participants, over 100x more than the 200 participants initially registered for the event.
The protest began as thousands of participants kneeled on the ground in an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence in honour of George Floyd, whose murder on May 25 is considered by many the major catalyst for the anti-racism protests throughout the US and the world. Chants of “I Can’t Breathe”, Floyd’s now-famous last words, echoed through the crowd as the moment of silence came to an end.
The program then continued for another two hours with a varied set of speakers and performances including Sengalese model and TV personality Papis Loveday, and Munich-born musician and author Roger Rekless. You can click here for a full program released by organizers prior to the event.
The protest concluded at approximately 5:20pm, following moving renditions of ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Stand by Me’ by local singers.
Munich police (who had 600 officers on-site during the event) described the protest as peaceful and trouble-free, with most participants wearing nose/mouth coverage throughout the event and even some masks being distributed on-site by organizers.
However, the unexpected attendance rate meant that maintaining the minimum 1.5m social distance was difficult, particularly among those in the front third of the protest site. Distance was said to be much easier to maintain on the outer edges of the protest, where some protestors were even observed watching over 1.5m above ground level from trees and lamp posts.
And while the protest has drawn both widespread support and scathing criticism, one fact remains certain: in times like these, it is now more important than ever to take a stand against racism and speak up where necessary… no matter which avenues you choose.
More Photos and Videos
For more photos & videos from Saturday’s anti-racism protest in Munich, visit the event’s official Twitter account here, and stay tuned for the release of an official recap video by organizers combining all of Saturday’s protests throughout Germany.