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Police violence during demo against new state assembly law in Düsseldorf: Business as usual [Germany]

On Saturday german cops once again showed their ugly face. Riot cops, flood lights, a helicopter in the air. In a park in Hamburg. For months now cops are attacking youths in parks and neighbourhoods, major parts of the left react with a deafening silence. In this scenario nobody should be surprised that the cops went after people after one of the most innocent demos that I ever went to: the Osterhoplz Bleibt demo in Wuppertal on June 12. The state doesn’t need actions in self-defense to protect a demo as justification for repression. The fact that the forest occupation in Osterholz and other actions for the forest are putting more and more pressure on municipal and state authorities is reason enough for the state to react with repression. On Saturday the cops didn’t only went after youths in Hamburg. In Düsseldorf the cops attacked a demonstration against the new state (anti) assembly law. The outrage was huge after the police attacks in Düsseldorf, that was perhaps the real surprise for me. Police violence is nothing unusual, the repressive state forces are structurally violent. Ask the surplus proletarian youths in your city. They know violent police practices like racial profiling, deportations and general harassment too well. People get beaten up by cops regurlarly. Düsseldorf was not an exception, it was business as usual.

Published by Enough 14. Written by Riot Turtle. Image above by @antifa_nrw.

It is clear that the state measures against the Corona virus have boosted the structural state violence. Politicians and police alike became drunken from the posibilities to increase their authoritarian policies under the COVID-19 pretext. Already in spring 2020, interior state minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul, stated that he wants to get rid of the Brokdorf verdict. [1] In this sense Reul’s current law proposal to further restrict the freedom of assembly is not a surprise. The deafening silence of major parts of the left when it comes to the authoritarian Corona state measures in 2020, are not the reason that Reul is pushing new repressive assembly laws, but he surely knows that the time is ripe when the left accepted the authoritarian Corona rules. Noticeable is also the big distance between major parts of the left and the youths in the cities and parks, who are subjected to police violence on a regular basis.

For the cops these youths are much harder to control as the rituals during most typical leftwing demonstrations.Where the “park” youths more and more often spontaniously defend themselves against the repressive state forces, many of the typical leftwing demonstrations captured by a nonviolent consensus. With some exceptions, the awareness that Nonviolence from our part protects the state seems to be completely lost. In contrast to the militant defense of Rigaer 94 in Berlin a few weeks ago, the cops in Düsseldorf could plan and carry out their operation without problems. In Rigaer the cops were suprised when people created an autonomous zone before the state mercenaries installed their “red zone”. The cops had to improvise, something which is not their strongest point. The autonomous zone in Rigaer was militantly defended for several hours and comparatively there were not that many arrests and injured people. In Düsseldorf the cops knew the exact route of the registered demonstration, so it was easy for them to plan their attack. Additionally there was no concept how to protect the demo in case of police attacks.

Similar like at the 1000 people strong kettle during Blockupy 2013 in Frankfurt, people had no answer to the violent and repressive approach by the cops. Its clear that people don’t have that many options when cops were given the opportunity to prepare themselves well. But even when its way better than to leave, its not a success when major parts of the demo stays (but standing still) with the kettle. Its a way of showing solidarity but not a success. Breaking through the kettle would be a success. The cops were able to injure many people, street medics said they had to treat about 100 people, and the cops could carry out their kettle as they pleased. Hundreds that were in the kettle were subjected to ID checks. Probably many will be charged.

Its important to learn some lessons from demonstrations like the one in Düsseldorf. First of all, why do we register demonstrations and if we do, what do we do with the fact that it gives the cops better options to plan and carry out attacks against the demo as they know the timetable and the route of registered demos. Many will argue that its difficult to mobilize for unregistered demonstrations. But why not just announce the starting point, so that the cops at least don’t know the route? As I pointed out before, the cops had difficulties to retake the autonomous zone in Rigaer. Again and again they also have problems to control the “park” youth. Its because they have to improvise in both cases. Protecting a registered demo against police violence isn’t easy, but what about decentral autonomous actions when cops attack a demonstration to force them to pull away parts of the riot squads. That would give people in the demo a better chance to break through kettles and to defend the demo against police attacks. In Germany the police often works with huge cop armies to intimidate demo participants. With decentral militant autonoumous actions people would interrupt their concept.

Of course these are only first thoughts after the events in Düsseldorf and they are far from complete. But dont build on the outrage about the police violence in Düsseldorf. We have been there before and it didn’t change anything. Change can only come from struggle. We have to enforce change.

Solidarity to all injured of police violence


[1] During the first German Covid-19 lockdown, a decree titled “Police Measures on the Occasion of Assemblies” by the NRW state Minister of the Interior, Herbert Reul, was made public to the district police authorities, in which they were instructed, among other things, to influence the authorities responsible for the measures in accordance with infection control, not to order the wearing of face masks during assemblies, as this would contradict the ban on masking. Furthermore, the Ministry of Interior implicitly threatens to abolish (have abolished) the exemption for assemblies defined in § 11 (3) in the Corona Protection Ordinance, if any reason is found to do so. In a letter to cabinet colleagues and district governments dated April 9, 2020, Herbert Reul questioned what he considered to be the constitutional privileging of the exercise of the fundamental right to assemble under Article 8 of the constitution as a result of the Brokdorf decision, which in his opinion should be put to the test. After the debate in the Interior Committee about the text passage, Herbert Reul retracted his view and said he had been misunderstood.

BVerfGE 69, 315 – Public Demonstration against a Nuclear Power Station (Brokdorf-Beschluss):

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