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Protesters stop construction crews demolishing Berlin Wall section

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Berlin Wall Friday to stop construction crews removing a section of it to make way for apartments.

Berlin wall protestEnlarge
BERLIN, GERMANY - Protesters scuffle with police at the East Side Gallery, which is the longest still-standing portion of the former Berlin Wall, following efforts by a construction company to remove a 25-meter long section of the Wall on March 1, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. A real estate developer is planning to build a 14-storey apartment building between the East Side Gallery and the Spree River, and needs to remove the Wall section in order to allow access to the construction site. (Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)

Berliners demonstrated the power of the people Friday when they forced construction crews to halt work on demolishing a section of the Berlin Wall to make way for apartments.

The crews were only able to remove one section from the famous East Side Gallery before at least 300 demonstrators, some wielding banners, pressed too close for the work to continue and it was deemed unsafe. 

One protester carried a poster asking "does culture no longer have any value?" in bold letters, with "die yuppie scum" written in smaller letters, AP reported.

The Guardian reported another banner read: "Mr Wowereit, don't tear down this wall" – an appeal to Berlin's Social Democrat mayor, Klaus Wowereit, and a veiled reference to a 1987 speech made at the wall by the then US president Ronald Reagan in which he urged the Soviet leader: "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Under the plan, a 20 meter stretch of the 1.3 kilometer section of wall was to be removed to enable a road to be built to access a new luxury apartment complex on the nearby banks of the Spree river.

More from GlobalPost: Rebuilding the Berlin Wall

Since German reunification in 1989, the stretch of the wall has been preserved as a historical monument and transformed into an open air gallery painted with murals by about 120 artists, ABC News reported.

The murals include the well-known image of boxy East German Trabant car that appears to burst through the wall; and the former Soviet and East German leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in a passionate clinch.

"It's unbearable to see that the wall here is being so brutally torn down," artist Thierry Noir, whose painted section of the wall is one likely to be removed, told the dpa news agency.

By Friday afternoon more than 30,000 people had signed a petition on change.org calling for the project to be stopped, The Guardian reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/130301/protesters-stop-construction-crews-demolishing-berlin-wa