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#NYE Extreme Racist Tactics By German Police In Cologne – An Eyewitness Account

On New Years Eve, 1500 cops carried out massive racist operations in Cologne, Germany. Antifascists documented the racist police operation.

Image: Kettle on New Years Eve in front of the main train station (Hbf) in Cologne, Germany.

Parts are translated by Enough is Enough from Linksunten.

We arrived at 08:30 at Breslauer Platz in Cologne. During our journey we already got an impression of the scale of the police operation. Streets and bridges were blocked by police and we saw dozens of police vans, trucks, and hundreds of police officers, some with machine guns. Proverbial on every corner. We also saw many cops in plain clothes, especially inside and in front of the main train station and at Breslauer Platz. We didn’t see a high presence of neo-nazis, although the fascists held a massive mobilisation on social networks. The racist assaults on New Years Eve came from “security” forces.

Situation inside Cologne main train station

After the first few meters inside the main train station, we already noticed two small groups of police officers, who solely approached a “non European looking” male. The procedure of the controls we observed (Chief of police in Cologne, Mathies, later said the police carried out 1700 ID checks) seemed to be targeted. The cops didn’t care if people understood German or not. They asked people in German: “Where do you want to go?” or “Are you passing through?”. Regardless of what people answered, cops checked their ID’s. In about 80% of the cases we observed, people were taken away to have their ID’s checked. We didn’t know where the cops were taking all these people to. Later, we found out that these people were taken to kettles in front of the main train station at Breslauer Platz.

Later that evening we observed again and again federal cops who were waiting for trains that kept arriving, and selected people on the basis of the color of their skin. White people had to leave the platform by one of the stairs that leads to the hall of Cologne main train station. People of color had to take the other stairs, and had to go to the kettle at the back entrance of the main train station. These people had not been checked yet, and were solely selected and kettled on the basis of the color of their skin.

Around 09:00pm we were in the entrance hall of the main train station. Cops started to seal-off both doors at the left side of the main entrance. In front of the main train station cops now started to kettle people. Apart from the fact that the people who were kettled didn’t look like “typical Germans” and were standing in front of the main train station there was no correlation between these people. We dont know if these people where taken from inside the main train station or where already outside. The kettle was growing and growing and we saw cops sending people of color from the other doors to the doors at the left side of the entrance hall, directly into the kettle.

Kettle in front of Cologne main train station and controls at the entrance

The people who were kettled were behaving calmly. We didn’t see any aggression from the people who were kettled. Regardless, chief of police Mathies stated that the aggressive atmosphere was the reason of the police action. A few people who calmly tried to leave the kettle through a gap in police lines where brutally torn to the ground by cops.

In the following minutes the kettle became the scene of various TV interviews with police management. Even as the 300 people in the kettle were abused as decoration for these TV interviews they stayed calm. The police spokesmen declared themselves as saviors.

At the stairs to Domplatte (square in front of the cathedral), there where also racist police operations. People of color were searched by cops. White or German and “European looking” people could pass without being searched or checked. White people were allowed to stay at Domplatte, while cops ordered people of color to move to the square in front of the main train station and to leave Domplatte. Cops grinned when they told us (whites) “You can stay there.”

The massive racist processes continued until midnight. At 00:10am, hundreds of people came from the direction of Domplatte to the main train station. The kettles were released and police lines disappeared.

Kettle at Deutzer train station

At another train station in Cologne 300 more people of color were selected and kettled by police. The people who were kettled between 2 trains reacted calmly. We didn’t see any aggression out of the kettle. At 11:56 the police released the people who were kettled.


On the basis of our observations, we object the description of the events on New Years Eve by the chief of police Mathies of Cologne. There was no aggressive group of men which Mathies used as an excuse for the police operation. In fact, we must assert that the police arbitrarily declared people to be “search relevant clients” (One of the many “impossible” descriptions used by the German state to criminalise people) and kettled them. There were no big groups – the big groups were formed in the kettle because the police kettled more and more people.

In this context the police used the word “Nafris” again. Nafris is an abbreviation which has been used by German police since early 2016 and stands for “North African Intensive Offenders”. On New Years Eve, German police tweeted that they checked several hundred “Nafris” with a picture of the kettle in front of the main train station.

Screenshot of the Tweet by  German police.

In correlation with the arbitrary selection when people deboarded the trains the description by the police of “North-African” is not an ethnic cohesion of a group of people but more a description to legitimize a general suspicion against groups of people. For the police of Cologne black hair, brown eyes and “not European looking” seem to qualify people to be from Northern-Africa. When the term “Nafri” is used by mainstream media, its always used in relation with theft, drug related crimes and police raids. A prominent part of the police operation on New Years Eve was based on racial profiling. Young men between 15 and 30 were arbitrary classified as North-African”intensive offenders,” and kettled for hours on the basis of how they looked. There is no proof of claims by police and several media outlets that the institutional racist police operation prevented excesses and assaults.

1 thought on “#NYE Extreme Racist Tactics By German Police In Cologne – An Eyewitness Account

  1. […] it seems that parts of the German police are part of the problem. Apart from increasing racial profiling operations by German police, there are more and more reports about close ties between parts of the police forces and German […]

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