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#Vienna: Organized Police Violence Against #ClimateJustice Activists

Vienna, Austrian territory: The police violence during the evacuation of a non-violent blockade last Friday is causing some discussion. There are two videos in particular that cause a stir. One shows a policeman violently beating a person who is being held on the ground by other people in uniform. Among other things, a man is fixed under a police bus directly in front of the tire. The car starts and drives off. Only at the last moment cops pulled the arrested man out of the danger area.

Originally published by Indymedia DE. Translated by Enough14.

The main topic of discussion is the individual misconduct of individual officers. But the organisation of police violence is already evident in the videos. In the first film you can see a car park made up of police vehicles. It serves to keep curious glances away. Also the interaction of the police forces is remarkable: In the first recording a “Into the Kidneys!”-call can be heard, the bat in uniform obviously follows this. In the other clip there is an interplay between the driver and the two policemen who fixate the man. In both cases, many police officers were all around, who did one thing above all: prevent a critical public; remove people who wanted to document or be solidary witnesses. So it wasn’t individual police officers who behaved in the wrong way, it was a whole apparatus that covered this up and supported it.

The context of the police action also clearly speaks in favour of organised police violence and against personal misconduct. A blockade on the Ring and the Aspernbrücke was cleared. It was an action within the framework of the Climate Camp Action Day and took place following the weekly “Friday for Future” demonstration. There was a clear consensus for the action: no violence! Consequently, there was no real threat; it doesn’t matter whether the evacuation lasted an hour longer or shorter – only a few drivers had to drive round. The police were on site with 200 of them, there were about the same number of activists on the spot – or in other words: the police always had the situation under control. And yet at the end of the day there were almost 100 people arrested and at least four people with serious injuries. So it was the police who deliberately escalated here.

Even people who consider the police to be necessary (I don’t think so; I think people are in principle able to solve their problems in a different way) will see more of an organizational than an individual misconduct. There is a deeper, fundamental conflict: the difference in power between the individual acting as a citizen and the individual acting as a representative of the state. This is the core of all abuse and police violence. There are ways and means to narrow this gap, but it cannot be bridged. And there is a situation where this difference is emphasized and increased. The authoritarian Law and Order policy of the past black-and-blue government. In fact, a small-minded ban policy seems to be the only solution to solve problems throughout all political parties. This enhances the value of the police, the power of the state weighs heavier in their hands and more painfully on our heads and in our kidneys.

In recent years, protests in which people have not only marched from point A to point B have repeatedly been marked by police violence. During the demonstration against the EU Presidency, there were beatings, pepper spray, kettles and several arrests; during the evacuation of a squatted house in Ottakring, the squatters complained about beatings and kicks; probably as a reaction to posters critical of the police, a Rapid fan march was kettled for several hours. And these are only the known cases. Political activists have the advantage that they can create a certain media publicity. Many marginalised people like homeless people, asylum seekers, non-native-speaking kids in the park, etc. cannot do that. Police violence often enough remains undetected here. What happens without pictures is being forgotten. Even in the case of the climate demo, videos were needed to get the discussion going. In the first two days, media only reported about Greta Thunberg being on the demo. The reports about the actions after the demo, about mass arrests and police violence only came when the first video went viral via Twitter.

It can also be assumed that the police will learn from this incident: In the future they will pay even more attention not to be filmed…

I’ve been writing on the subject before a while ago (German):

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