Leftist Radicals Battle With Police
BERLIN (AP) _ Hundreds of leftist radicals hurled rocks from rooftops and fired flare guns at riot police today, turning a Berlin squatters’ commune into a tear gas-choked battle zone.
Radicals barricaded one end of the street with debris and battled with police for more than two hours. Armored trucks equipped with water cannons drenched the long row of tenements in eastern Berlin.
At least 12 people were arrested, but no injury figures were immediately available, said Berlin police spokesman Werner Thronicker.
Clouds of tear gas hung over the narrow Mainzer Street, where radicals have occupied at least 12 abandoned buildings during the past few months.
Thundering punk rock music emanated from the buildings as leftists hurled rocks and firebombs and fired the flare guns, and 400 police responded with clubs, tear gas and water cannons.
Scores of radicals, most wearing black masks or scarves over their faces, stood on rooftops and flung huge chunks of concrete to the street below.
The battle spilled onto an adjoining six-lane thoroughfare, paralyzing much of the rush-hour traffic on the east side of the city.
The riot began as a protest against the evictions earlier today of radicals living in three houses in other parts of the city.
Right- and left-wing radicals have occupied many of former East Berlin’s abandoned, rundown tenements since the borders between the two former German nations were opened last year.
Most of the squatters are members of West Berlin’s veteran anarchist scene.
The leftists have waged numerous battles with police over the years, including a huge riot in eastern Berlin on Oct. 3, the date the two German nations united.
The leftists claim German unity has led to a rise in nationalism and racism and demand that the nation be replaced by an anarchist state.
The community in Mainzer Street, which began during the summer, is one of the largest concentrations of radicals in the city. The street has two bars, special housing for women and homosexuals and an ″Info Cafe″ that distributes information on rallies and protests.
The drab, crumbling tenements are splashed with scores of slogans and signs denouncing German unity.