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#Wuppertal, #Germany: Like last year, the autonomous #MayDay was full of surprises!

Wuppertal. Germany. And these surprises have caught the cops off guard and we are happy about that! But maybe we should start with what happened in the valley.

Originally published by Indymedia DE. Translated by Enough 14.

It started in the night from 30.04. to 01.05. with a demonstration in the Ölberg district, accompanied by fireworks and other great lights and (sound) effects. On our way through the Elberfelder Nordstadt some neighbours at their windows celebrated with us that the 1st of May has begun. So we were able to start the day in good spirits with strike two under difficult conditions. Already with the first strike last year we could catch the cops on the wrong foot and thus trick the cop apparatus. From that point on, we managed to break through the de facto suspension of the right to demonstrate for a short time. At least for a short period of time we were able to make the darkness glow.

The morning started with a massive cop presence throughout the Nordstadt. At the Autonomous Centre (AZ) there were already cops standing around the day before, waiting for people who had something to do with the AZ to annoy and besiege them, with checks and searches. From noon on, the cops closed off parts of the Gathe and the Markomannenstraße around the AZ so that no people could gather there. Punctually at 2 pm, despite Corona, about 100 (BFE-) cops had gathered at the AZ, mostly peacefully, to demonstrate and to listen devoutly to anarchist speeches (including this year’s May Day call and a contribution by FAU Bergische Land [1]) and music for one and a half hours…

Team Blue patrolled all over the city and sometimes chased people they considered suspicious at Cafe Tacheles and the Trasse [2] in Barmen. Nevertheless, about 30 people made it to the Helios Clinic (the Helios Clinics Group is one of the largest providers of inpatient and outpatient care in Europe) in the morning without being accompanied by the cops, where a solidarity rally was held with the nurses* and other people of the broken-down health care system. Why a rally exactly there? In the past years, the workers struggle in the nursing professions has not been a major topic, at least not in Wuppertal. That is exactly what we wanted to change. Because in these times of the corona pandemic, people often talk about so-called “EVERY DAY LIFE HEROES”, but where was this appellation before the outbreak of the corona virus? And where will it be afterwards? Especially the nurses are neither before nor after the corona pandemic properly appreciated or even rudimentary paid fairly. That’s why we decided to hold a rally at the Helios Clinic in Barmen to emphasize that the situation of the nurses is neither before nor after the corona pandemic an acceptable situation. It is therefore important that the existing labour disputes in the nursing sector are accompanied by solidarity, as for example in Solingen, where the municipal clinic is to be privatized, which is why about 20 people gathered there to protest against it. We very much welcome this courage to engage in workers struggles, particularly in times of the Corona pandemic!

The cops, as always bad losers

Since the street party on Schusterplatz could not take place due to the Corona pandemic, there was an appeal to residents living in the Ölberg district to organize a decentralized Schusterplatz party by putting loudspeakers with music out of the windows and hanging out banners. The call was followed by some of the residents and so music boomed through the streets and on Schusterplatz. In addition, many people in the neighbourhood were on the move until the evening. But unfortunately there were also a lot of cops, who did not miss the opportunity to annoy, hurt and finally arrest people. The cops had begun to besiege people who were listening to music and enjoying cool drinks under a beautiful banner in Gertrudenstraße. Allegedly the people had not kept the minimum distance, which is why the cops ordered a ban from the premises for them. Meanwhile, two people with children passed by and criticized the behavior of the cops. The cops took this as an opportunity to threaten these people massively. So the adults were threatened with imprisonment with the consequence that the children would have to go to an emergency reception for children. This disgusting behaviour of the cops surpasses many things we have already experienced, but unfortunately this harassment was not enough. The escalation was pushed further by the cops, because the news about the kettling of these people quickly spread on the social networks and in the neighbourhood, which made many people come out onto the streets and show the cops that they can’t get away with their shitty behaviour. Here already thousand thanks to the great neighbours who have shown solidarity, because that is what makes our neighbourhood!

Unfortunately, the assaults by the cops did not stop there. A short time later, a person on a bicycle in Schneiderstraße at Schusterplatz was beaten off his bicycle “consistently to protect the life and health of each individual” (quote from the police press release of 29.04.), because the cops thought he had been standing in front of a police van that wanted to drive off for too long. The person was brutally forced down to the ground with boots on his neck and twisted arms. People who rushed to watch and criticize what was happening were pushed away and shouted at. A group of cops rushed in to “protect” the disproportionate action of the colleagues. Protect from what? From people who tell the cops that they behave like shit? Apparently that must be very dangerous for cops. Because very soon the second arrest of a person followed, at a nearby police van. There the person was handcuffed and painfully fixed. Because of the cries of pain of the person in handcuffs more and more neighbours came on the street and the pressure on the cops increased more and more. They were shouted at from all sides and asked to piss off from the hill [3] and leave the people from the neighbourhood alone. Other people who loudly spoke out against the violent arrest, who wanted to document events with their cell phones or who rushed in solidarity were also brutally pushed to the ground, chased by several cops across Schusterplatz with the shouts “Zecke [4], we’re going to get you” and some of them were also brutally arrested. After more and more bystanders and residents (some of them from the windows) arrived at the scene of the events, interfered and protested against the police action, the police issued bans for the premises to everyone present (including a lawyer who was on site). As another riot squad rushed in, the people who showed solidarity and expressed their discontent with the disproportionate police measures were forced out of Schusterplatz. Solidary neighbours informed local media about the disproportionate action of the cops, whereupon they came and tried to document as well as possible. During the night another detention took place in front of a kiosk on Ölberg. The next morning the five people were released from police headquarters.

It is not surprising that the head of operations was not willing to make a statement to the media that evening. Apparently, Patrick Gröteke from the Hofkamp police station, who is known for his political convictions for quite some time, was once again responsible for the operation. As a reaction to the repression, there were people who ignited pyrotechnics in the city area during the night, as well as several squatting actions, among others in the Unterbarmen district. So the cops were not given a calm night! They were shown that they can’t just go crazy in our neighbourhood without something happening, be it on the street directly or secretly in the night with solidarity actions and the like.

The coming months and years will continue to be marked by massive worldwide (social) struggles, which will be intensified and exacerbated by the emerging global economic crisis. In these times it is urgently necessary to develop forms of struggle that can put pressure on the rulers, despite the difficult conditions caused by the Corona pandemic. Possible approaches could also be seen in Wuppertal on and before May 1st (e.g. actions against the electricity provider WSW and the SPD, because of power cuts and the brutal anti-migration policy of Germany and the EU, the sabotage of ticket machines was also good, because the climate crisis continues!)

Good approaches but…

Despite all the joy that we succeed again and again in joshing the cops and creating moments of surprise, we have to see that we are currently too few people on the streets to create the necessary dynamics of movement (even the exacerbation of the situation due to the Corona pandemic has not changed this). If we have to defend the rights we have fought for over centuries, which we still have in the bourgeois-capitalist “democracy”, and if we want to wage the necessary emancipatory social struggles, we have to take a big step forward!

The struggle against the fascists, against the authoritarian state (which organizes corona parties in shopping malls, but wants to suppress every impulse of protest), the climate catastrophe caused by the capitalist economy and against the now intensifying social-digital attacks remain daily tasks!

In the end, there is only one thing that helps against the murderous migration regime, hunger, exploitation and war: social revolution and the creation of a free and just society.


[1] FAU Bergisch Land is the local section of the anarcho-syndicalist FAU union.

[2] The Nordbahntrasse (also called Trasse) in Wuppertal is an approximately 22 km long, wide foot, bicycle and inline skating path on the former railway lines 2423 (Rhenish line) and 2713 (coal line).

[3] Ölberg is German for “oil hill”:

[4] Zecke, often also in plural Zecken, is a term developed and used in Germany’s far-right environment to devalue and insult those who think differently, especially leftists and punks.

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