Hundreds of people took to the streets of Hamburg, Germany, to protest police violence and racial profiling late Tuesday, the Local reported. The protest was triggered by a massive police raid Monday involving 260 officers that led to the arrest of 35 men who were all reported to be of African heritage.
Police reported seizing marijuana and cocaine in the raid. Officials denied allegations of racial profiling. But Germany’s Left Party said the raid showed disproportional force and targeted an immigrant community.
“Calling in special forces carrying submachine guns and with masks over their faces is in no way proportionate to the reason for the raid,” the Left Party said in a statement. “This completely disproportionate act of aggression was clearly intended to intimidate the affected Africans and all those in the neighborhood who support them.”
A court ruled last week that a June police raid on building in Berlin that left 123 officers injured following clashes with left-wing groups was illegal, the Associated Press reported.
The protests in Germany mirror those in the U.S. organized by groups including the Black Lives Matter social justice movement. Following the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota earlier in July, over 500 people protested in Berlin highlighting Germany's own problems with racism and policing holding signs reading, “Germany — you have a racism problem,” the Washington Post reported.
The protest Tuesday comes at a moment of elevated security in Europe following a terror attack in Nice, France last week that left at least 85 people dead and the lone wolf knife attack by a refugee believed to be from Pakistan onboard a train in Germany Monday. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack in Germany, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While France and Belgium have both faced large-scale terror attacks conducted by people who have pledged allegiance to ISIS, Germany has not faced such an attack. Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stressed the seriousness of the threat level for his country Wednesday.
“Like several EU countries, like the whole EU, Germany is also in the target area of international terrorism. Therefore, I have said for a long time, the situation is serious,” de Maiziere told reporters, Reuters reported.
Under German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open arms refugee policy, Germany welcomed over 1 million refugees in 2015 including people fleeing wars and repressive states in countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Monday's knife attack again raised criticism of the government's policy.