A court in Dresden, Germany, banned the sale of beer during a festival in Ostritz this weekend, hoping that the action would prevent violent outbursts during an event that typically sees thousands of neo-Nazis in attendance.
The event, called the “Shield and Sword” (SS) festival, had obvious neo-Nazi overtones, and brought in over 1,200 far-right extremists last year.
“[T]he event has an obviously martial and aggressive character,” and the influence of alcohol could have made things more dangerous, the court explained in justifying the ban.
As a result, police in Ostritz confiscated more than 4,200 liters of beer on Friday, and 200 more liters on Saturday, the BBC reported.
But they weren’t alone in the efforts to discourage alcohol use — and attendance at the concert itself — as citizens in the city also did their part, buying up alcohol that was already on the shelves in supermarkets there.
— Polizei Sachsen (@PolizeiSachsen) June 22, 2019
“The plan was devised a week in advance,” Georg Salditt, a local activist, told German newspaper Bild. “We wanted to dry the Nazis out. We thought, if an alcohol ban is coming, we’ll empty the shelves at the Penny [supermarket].”
Their plan seemed to work. As a result of their efforts, attendance at the concert by neo-Nazis and other far-right elements dropped by more than 50 percent, with only an estimated 500-600 concert-goers showing up. There was a higher police presence than there were people who attended the concert, CNN reported, and more than 2,000 protesters against the neo-Nazis were there as well.
Neo-Nazism and other forms of far-right extremism have been on the rise in Germany, in the eastern side of the country in particular, reported an anonymous writer who lives in the region in The Guardian last fall. Since 2015, more than 4,000 attacks against foreigners and asylum-seekers have occurred, some of which perpetrators used baseball bats and other types of weapons, including in some cases Molotov cocktails.
Featured image via Polizei Sachsen/Twitter