Since 1987, riots have taken place on the first of May in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg. Twenty years ago the riots were closely linked to a political message against capitalism. Today, what started out as political protests have evolved into another excuse to act a fool and destroy other people’s property. It was not unusual for the demonstrations to escalate into riots, with people setting cars on fire, looting ATM machines, and throwing stones through shop windows.
In recent years the violence has subsided, many people in the Kreuzberg district attribute this to the introduction of MyFest. MyFest is a street festival that was organized to directly counteract the shenanigans destined for May 1st. Local leaders, residents and business owners were tired of their neighborhood being a battleground between “protesters” and the police. Organizers of Myfest aimed to changed the negative sentiment surrounding the first of May. Myfest 2012, which began in 2003, brings artist, performers and musicians to the streets of Kreuzberg. Food and beverages are also sold by dozens of vendors.During the festival, political messages are peacefully shared through the arts and on stage.
It really is a great atmosphere but the mood is dampened by the thousands of police and riot crews on standby. In anticipation for trouble that usually kicks off early evening, Berlin brings in police from neighboring states to control any potential backlash. ( and scare the crap out of innocent people like myself.) I stopped by Myfest 2012 earlier in the day and the streets were flooded with cops and hipsters. I made sure to get the hell out of dodge long before people started throwing bottles. That’s just not cute!
Here are some pictures from a lovely May Day in Berlin during Myfest 2012:
As you can see it was a pretty interesting day. Not sure if there were any riots this evening because I haven’t turned on the news.
For those of you familiar with the history of Berlin and May Day, do you think the riots are justified? Is Myfest 2012 the reason that it’s calmed down in recent years?
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