Police fired tear gas at protesters who had gathered on the Italian side of the Alpine Brenner Pass with Austria, as authorities from the latter country announced plans to fence erect a fence to "channel migrants". On May 7, hundreds of protesters from Italy had gathered on the border, to demonstrate against the Austrian government's move, which soon turned violent.
Demonstrators allegedly threw rocks and firecrackers at police, who retaliated with tear gas to quell the crowd. Brenner is part of a borderless Europe and an important transport point between Northern and Southern Europe. The route in the last year has been used by refugees to cross over into Northern Europe.
Two police officers were injured and 10 protesters were held by police, Fulvio Coslovi, the head of a local Italian police union told Reuters. Over 600 people showed up at the protest, which is the third in over a month, the local police in Tyrol, Austria said.
A spokesperson for Austrian police claimed, over 300 Austrian police personnel were deployed to control the situation, but they did not intervene since the protest took place exclusively on the Italian side of the border.
Video footage showed smoke filling the Brenner railway station and protesters wearing masks throwing stones and smoke bombs at police in riot gear. According to Italian Newspaper Corriera Della Sera, the protest was organised by an anarchist group from Trentino in Northern Italy.
Meanwhile, around 1,000 right wing extremists protested outside the Berlin Central Railway station asking Chancellor Angela Merkel to step down for her stance on refugees. They were seen waving German flags and posters that said "Refugees not welcome". The right wing demonstrators were outnumbered by the 7,000 left wing protesters.
According to a police spokesperson, a scuffle broke out when left wing protesters tried to break through the barriers that separated both groups and threw bottles at police, who used water cannons and teargas to disperse the crowd.
Germany and Italy voiced their displeasure over Austria's plan to fence the border in Rome on 5 May. European Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker, said on 7 May that it would be a "political catastrophe" for Europe if Austria went ahead with its plan.