Police clash with crowds protesting coronavirus restrictions across Europe

Police clash with crowds protesting coronavirus restrictions across Europe
© Getty Images

Police in Germany reportedly clashed with anti-lockdown protesters on Saturday, while demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions also occurred in several other European countries.

German news agency dpa reported that roughly 20,000 people attended a protests in Kassel, where videos and photos emerged of police striking protesters and using pepper spray.

"Of course this operation will be critically followed up. The images also raise pressing questions for me. I will not hesitate to inform members of the Interior Committee," said the interior minister of the state of Thuringia, Georg Maier, according to dpa.

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"We always take criticism of the operational command, our task forces and their approach seriously," the local police force responded in a statement, the news agency noted.

The Associated Press reported that similar protests occurred Saturday in several other countries including the U.K., Finland, Austria, Switzerland and Romania.

In Romania, anti-lockdown protests also included people opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations who bore signs warning: "Parents, protect your children," according to the AP.

Others demonstrators in Switzerland held up signs reading: "Vaccination kills," the AP reported.

Vaccine hesitancy has emerged as a major problem for health experts hoping to get levels of COVID-19 down to more manageable levels with the aim of reopening businesses and ending lockdown restrictions.

A PBS survey of U.S. adults earlier this month found that as many as 49 percent of Republican-leaning men say they will not get vaccinated.