Police make arrests as anti-gentrification protesters occupy Berlin bar

Hundreds of police officers have faced off against protesters trying to stop the eviction of a left-wing bar in Berlin that has been the focus of a campaign against gentrification.

Police detained 44 people after protesters erected barricades and set several fires in an unsuccessful bid to stop bailiffs from entering the Syndikat bar in the German capital’s Neukoelln district.

A rally opposing the eviction last Saturday turned violent, with police and protesters clashing after officers were pelted with stones and fireworks.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>A police officer holds a man at the Weisestrasse in Berlin (Paul Zinken/dpa/AP)</figcaption>
A police officer holds a man at the Weisestrasse in Berlin (Paul Zinken/dpa/AP)

The Syndikat bar, which opened 35 years ago when Neukoelln was a largely working-class area, has become a symbol for activists who say rents in Berlin are becoming unaffordable.

Berlin’s state government recently ordered a five-year rent freeze on 1.5 million flats.

A campaign is under way to have the state buy up properties owned by large landlords.

The protests on Friday were largely peaceful.

Many residents banged pots and pans in solidarity with the collective that operated the bar.

The property in which the bar is located belongs to a company linked to the London-based Pears family, which operates a global real estate empire.

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