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The mayor of Berlin organizes a youth summit after the New Year’s Eve violence

origin 1Franziska Giffey (L), Mayor of Berlin, and Iris Spranger , Senator for Interior, Digitization and Sport, give a statement to the press during a visit to the bicycle patrol at the Rummelsburg police headquarters. Annette Riedl/dpa

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey is planning a youth summit following violent incidents in the city on New Year’s Eve, in which 41 police officers were injured in rocket and firework attacks.

He said invitations to young people should be sent out as soon as possible, a spokesman for the Senate, the city’s administration, told dpa.

The Berlin police have initiated a total of 355 cases, with investigations ongoing for breach of the peace, assaulting and resisting law enforcement and rescuers, dangerous bodily injury and explosion. Police arrested 145 people at the time, but all suspects were released after the measures were completed.

Police and emergency workers were attacked in several cities on New Year’s Eve, with the attacks in the capital particularly violent.

The federal interior ministry is preparing a report on attacks across Germany, but data has yet to be received from some larger federal states, spokesman Maximilian Kall said.

Deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Büchner said allegations that many of the troublemakers had a migrant background were a red herring. “It was an attack on the rule of law,” he said.

A total of 18 different nationalities were registered among those arrested in Berlin, with 45 suspected German nationals.

Giffey dismissed criticism that Berlin failed to handle the situation appropriately, with revelers getting their first chance to use fireworks in three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had the entire police and firefighters manpower that night, a triple of the emergency firefighters on the streets,” he told rbb-Inforadio on Wednesday. “I don’t see the police being limited here.”

His comments came after Friedrich Merz, the leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the largest opposition party at the federal level, told the Münchner Merkur newspaper that the state of Berlin was not addressing the situation. For years, he said, the Senate has limited police deployment options for political reasons.

Giffey, of the Social Democrats, the party that leads the governing coalition at the federal level, countered that there has been a massive increase in the police force in recent years.

“But it’s also clear that here in Berlin, in a big city, we have a huge accumulation of problem situations,” he said.

However, this isn’t just a Berlin phenomenon, Giffey said, adding, “Merz should take a look at the fact that this has happened in other German cities as well.”

She also intervened on the question of the ban on some fireworks, a measure which has been discussed in recent days. Giffey has proposed banning some firecrackers, saying it would be impossible to enforce a nationwide ban on all fireworks.

origin 1Franziska Giffey (CL), Mayor of Berlin, and Iris Spranger (CR), Senator for Interior, Digitization and Sport, stand with police officers behind police bikes during a visit to the bike patrol at the Rummelsburg Police Headquarters. Annette Riedl/dpa