Approximately 500 local residents in the German city of Greifswald attended a demonstration on Monday evening against the district council’s decision to spend €9 million on the construction of a container village to accommodate asylum seekers.
A large police presence was deployed at the site of the planned accommodation where a meeting among local authorities was taking place. A counter-demonstration by 50 pro-refugee activists caused tensions to rise, and verbal altercations between the two groups were reported, as was an allegation of one counter-protester being physically assaulted.
German newspaper Die Welt also reported that Stefan Fassbinder, the Griefswald mayor who had been in attendance, was also the target of abuse by one protester. According to the Anklam Police Inspectorate, police intervened to stop an attempted assault on the German Green politician “by using a baton against a single person.”
At the meeting, Fassbinder reportedly called for more time to discuss how to move forward with the housing plans. “The schedule was originally different,” said Fassbinder, but the district council apparently put pressure on local officials to ensure the city is complying with federal refugee distribution quotas.
Some council members voted against the plans, objecting in particular to the location of the planned accommodation, which is in the immediate vicinity of a school. “We don’t want the accommodation at this location,” said Chairman Uwe Liedtke (CDU).
Local residents protest plan to bring 400 migrants to German village of 1,600 inhabitants
Despite the protests, municipality leaders remain determined to push ahead with the plan
Nonetheless, the district council voted through the proposal by 25 votes to 19. A total of 10 council members abstained.
District Administrator Michael Sack said the council had no choice but to approve the plans, saying, “We’re running out of time because we’re constantly being assigned new refugees.”
Protests against local government decisions to import significant numbers of new arrivals into areas where public services are already struggling to cope are becoming commonplace across Germany and fellow northern Europe countries.
Remix News reported on a similar protest in the German town of Upahl last month where 700 people gathered in front of the local administration building to protest against the construction of a container village for 400 asylum seekers. The town itself currently has just 1,662 inhabitants.
Protests were also reported in France where local government officials plan to build a new reception center for asylum seekers in the small town of Beyssenac to house 40 migrants where an old inn had operated.
Protests escalated in the Merseyside borough of Knowsley earlier this month where demonstrators clashed with police resulting in 15 arrests. Concerned parents had been objecting to the continued exclusive use of a nearby hotel for asylum seekers after video footage went viral of one of the hotel’s residents propositioning a schoolgirl.