Hundreds of protesters halt demolition of Berlin Wall, scuffle with police (PHOTOS)

Some of Berlin’s most famous wall paintings, such as Brezhnevand Honecker’s Kiss are under threat if the work goes ahead.Nearly 300 activists gathered in front of the famous East SideGallery to prevent the demolition of one of Europe’s most populartourist attractions. Protesters carried banners, one of which read”Does culture no longer have any value?”, apparentlyaddressed to local authorities.  Watch RT’sgallery from Berlin.Several arrests have been reported as protesters scuffled withpolice officers.  Construction crews managed to remove a meter and a half sectionof the famous monument before the crowd arrived. To replace themissing part of the world-famous Berlin Wall, demonstrators thenwheeled in a mock wall section they set up in front of the gap. Protesters are fighting against allowing private interests todestroy the historic wall as they view the action as a “direct actof destruction towards an artwork,” the newspaper cited Kani Alavi,the head of the artists’ initiative East Side Gallery, who led a€2.5m restoration project of the wall four years ago.Activists and artists who painted the murals on the East SideGallery are now circulating petitions against the demolition,saying it will violate their copyright.French artist Thierry Noir, the author of the famous colorfulgraffiti “Heads with big lips”, has joined protesters to fight forhis work not to be removed from the gallery and for the wall’ssurvival.“This is a unique opportunity to preserve a large section ofwhat was once a death strip. If you remove the sections, you’redestroying the authenticity of this place,” Guardian quotesNoir whose painted section of the wall is to be removed. “It’sunbearable to see that the wall here is being so brutally torndown.”Opponents also say the removal will insult the memory aboutthose who died in the former infamous “death strip”. During theyears of the Wall, an estimated 136 people were shot dead whiletrying to cross it in attempt to flee to the Westernsector.The East Side segment is the longest remaining stretch of theBerlin Wall, which was separating East and West Berlin for almost30 years.It was transformed into an open-air gallery months after EastGermany opened its borders in November of 1989. Covered with 105colorful graffiti works painted by some120 artists, the wallattracts up to 800,000 visitors a year – from all over theworld.However, despite its popularity, local authorities ruled tosacrifice parts of the 1,3 kilometer Berlin Wall to provide a sitefor a luxury apartment complex, a 63-meter-high tower of 36apartments  and offices, which is now being built on thenearby banks of the Spree river.The plan is to remove and relocate a 20-meter section.”The investor has a legal right to demand this, so we’ll haveto do it,” the district’s mayor, the Green MP Franz Schulz saidconfirming the removal plan.

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Hundreds of protesters halt demolition of Berlin Wall, scuffle with police (PHOTOS)

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