A large demonstration is expected in Essen on the occasion of the AfD party conference. The city is now planning extensive security precautions.

According to the “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung” (WAZ), the city of Essen is preparing for what may be the largest demonstration in its history. This is directed against the AfD federal party conference, which is scheduled to take place from June 28th to 30th in the Grugahalle in Essen.

The police are currently expecting 78,000 demonstrators. However, the expected number of participants could increase to 100,000 people, depending on the weather, the list of speakers and the European Championship schedule. This poses significant security problems for the city, especially in the Grugahalle, where the party conference is to take place.

As part of the security precautions, the city’s head of public order, Christian Kromberg, announced to the “WAZ” that the Grugapark, the Grugabad and the local spa must be closed for three days. This measure is intended to minimize the risk that disruptors could storm the exhibition hall in which the AfD party conference is to take place.

In addition, Norbertstrasse is to be closed and only used as an access road for AfD delegates, party conference employees, journalists, authority representatives and trade fair employees. According to “WAZ”, these restrictions lead to significant restrictions for all Essen residents, regardless of whether they are involved in what is happening or not.

Organizing these measures presents the city with major challenges. Kromberg spoke of the “most difficult task” he had to overcome in his long term in office. Mayor Thomas Kufen emphasized that “safety is the top priority”.

However, he makes it clear that the city probably cannot legally prevent the party conference. According to ZDF reports, the supervisory board of the exhibition hall, chaired by the mayor, had already announced in January that it would examine the “legal and operational framework” for canceling the party conference.

While the city administration is busy preparing for the party conference, the police also have their hands full. They have to coordinate eleven registered events and ensure that the fundamental right to freedom of demonstration is maintained, according to the “WAZ”. Essen police spokesman Thomas Weise pointed out that “significant restrictions” are to be expected, especially for car traffic – this is an effort “such as we have not had in recent decades”.

The AfD party conference and the demonstration also have an impact on the adjacent “Hotel Atlantic”. As the “WAZ” reports, the star hotel was originally intended to accommodate a national team on the weekend of the party conference as part of the European Football Championship. But due to the uncertainty caused by the planned demonstrations, the booking was canceled.

The role of Mayor Kufen is also causing discussion, as he intends to take part in one of the demonstrations. Criticism comes particularly from the AfD. She accused him of aligning himself with violent groups: “A demonstration led by Mayor Kufen will certainly not be separated from the participation of violent chaotics,” says a statement from the Essen AfD, according to “WAZ”. “Intentionally or unintentionally, he also becomes the leader of violent criminals whose destructive potential is known.”

Kufen defended himself against these accusations and emphasized that there was no doubt about the peacefulness of the Essen Alliance. The “Essen Alliance” is supported by the large churches and some parties and associations, including the CDU.

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