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Participants of the demonstration against the planned initial reception centre for refugees in the former Wismut hospital in Gera

Photo: Bodo Schackow / dpa

They are against a planned refugee accommodation: More than 1200 people gathered in Gera on Saturday at a demonstration of the right-wing spectrum. This figure was given by a police spokeswoman shortly after the start of the demonstration, which was supposed to lead to the location of the refugee accommodation in the former Wismut hospital.

Motorcade of the AfD and faces from the right-wing extremist scene

According to the information, the demonstration and the rally had been registered by a well-known right-wing extremist from Gera. In the afternoon, a motorcade organized from the AfD spectrum had already marched through Gera in protest against the home plans. 73 vehicles with about 150 occupants took part, the police spokeswoman said. According to the police, 60 people took part in a counter-rally for solidarity and human dignity.

In order to relieve the chronically overcrowded initial reception centre in Suhl, the state government recently decided to create places for 200 refugees in the former Wismut Hospital in Gera. The former clinic had already served as accommodation for asylum seekers between 2015 and 2017.

Mayor in worry

In the run-up to the demonstration, Gera's mayor Julian Vonarb (independent) had expressed understanding for the concerns of the city's society, for example about disturbances of the peace or an impairment of the nearby forest clinic.

At the same time, he said that he was concerned about the sometimes heated atmosphere because of the refugee home. Among other things, there were calls to move in front of his private apartment again. "Everyone can and should demonstrate. The only question is: With whom and behind whom do I form," he told the German Press Agency.

Before the protests, a video had surfaced, among other things, on which flames could be seen in connection with the call for the demonstration. According to police, the video is currently being examined by the prosecutor's office. The demonstrators had also been prohibited from carrying torches in a conditional notice. Some demonstrators still had torches with them, said the police spokeswoman. However, they were not set on fire. Police forces had confiscated them.

Inspections by building authorities or monument protection

Mayor Vonarb also has doubts about the timetable for setting up the refugee shelter. For the planned accommodation of people in the former clinic, a number of examinations are still necessary, for example by the building authority or the monument protection, he told the German Press Agency. "That's why I think the ministry's timeline is very ambitious."

He understands the lack of time of Interior Minister Georg Maier (SPD) in the search for accommodation, but criticizes the choice of location. By late summer, Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow (Left) had signaled to him that the clinic should not be reactivated.