Berlin Wall sections removed amid protests


A woman stands in front of the Berlin Wall, March 4, 2013. Property developers have halted demolition work at the wall pending further consultation, after massive public outcry.



A German property development firm has removed sections of the Berlin Wall amid protests and heavy police presence.

Four segments of the East Side Gallery stretch were removed Wednesday morning to give access to a building site for blocks of apartments. Around 250 police officers were deployed to the area as the sections were taken down.

More from GlobalPost: David Hasselhoff joins protests against plans to demolish parts of Berlin Wall (VIDEO)

The project has sparked outrage among citizen groups, who call the site a symbol of freedom.

Protesters had previously stopped an attempt on March 1 to remove sections of the gallery, the longest piece of the wall that is still intact.

The plan is to take down about 72 feet of the wall, but replace it once construction is complete.

The East Side Gallery has become a major tourist attraction and has been painted by 120 artists to cover the gray concrete tiles with colorful scenes. At least 136 people were killed when they tried to escape the communist East German government in 1989.

Residents of Berlin were not the only ones participating in the protests. David Hasselhoff made his way to the historic site on March 17 to support their cause – a special moment for many Germans, as his song, "Looking for Freedom," topped German music charts in 1989.