Living! Not being monitored.
The area of Eisenbahnstraße was declared as Waffenverbotszone (= Weapon free zone) on 5th of November 2018 after it as already been considered as a control area. This declaration gives the police the possibility to control people without any suspicion or reason because there is the power by “dangerous places” through the police law. This qualification is an intransperant and problematical process.
Racial profiling and institutional racism
Mostly affected by those controls are people the police considers to be from a foreign county. The selection based by the appearance of a person is called racial profiling. It is discriminating because it categorizes people as „criminal“ based on the looking. Racism characterizes our society and therefore it is also part of the public institutions. Especially this is shown by police walking on the streets. Based on their reputed „treasure of experiences“ they try to find criminalized behavior more often done by people with a background of migration or fleeing.
To deny this „treasure of experiences“ is not really possible but it has to be pointed out why there is this appearance that people without German citizenship behave more criminal.
Firstly, because of racist stereotypes these people get controlled more often. Obviously that crimes can be found more often within “them”.
Secondly, people with a background of migration often live in precarious situation BECAUSE they often get discriminated. So often they don‘t have any other chance to sell drugs or steel. That a missing work permit or too less welfare support is the reason for that, the criminal statistics don‘t show. Another cause is that there are many crimes which can only be commited by „strangers“ like a lack of a residents permit.
Racial profiling violates the prohibition of discrimination and the principle of equality contained in Article 3 of the Grundgesetz (constitution of the German state). Accordingly, it can also be asserted in court in the event of a violation by state authorities. However, this cannot be sufficient, because racism is a social problem which we must combat in our immediate environment, in social media and in society as a whole.
Besides racism there are other forms of discrimination such as antiromaism and transphobic which can be also seen in the acting of the police.
What can we do?!
In order to make a contribution against racism in your immediate environment, you can intervene in a police control. In the following, some tips will be given on how to behave.
The aim of an intervention should be to show solidarity with those affected and to symbolize to the police that there is a critical public, so that they cannot do what they want unobserved.
But don’t put yourself in danger and refrain from physical actions against cops (§113 StGB). Don’t patronize those affected and don’t take this as a stage to get some street credits.
Also do not try to defend the person because often you have no knowledge about them and a violation of a law you can not deny with certainty. It is usually not the criminalized behavior of the person that is vulnerable, but the legality of the police’s actions. This includes disproportionality, violation of Article 3 Grundgesetz and the fact that they provide assistance to those affected (see below).
Also a further support of friends of the affected persons can be helpful if they are overtaxed with the situation.
What should not be the goal is to prevent at all costs that the person is taken along. If, for example, the personal data of the person cannot be determined, then there is the corresponding legal basis in the Saxon police law.
The following paragraph will now deal with stages of intervention.
First of all, get an overview of the situation. To do this, you can first observe from a distance who is being controlled, what is being searched and what the mood of control is.
You can also talk to other people standing around or friends of the affected person and act together with them.
You have some time and dare? Then take a closer look and symbolize to the affected person and the police that you are there and want to become an active part of the action.
2. Getting in touch with the affected
Speak now actively the affected person and offer to them your support. There is a legal basis for it in § 14 paragraph 4 sentence 1 Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (Administrative Procedure Act). Thus you can become the assistance of the affected person by simply agreeing to your question. This exists because of the requirement of a fair trial and is derived from the principle of the rule of law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (EU). In contrast to a deputy, you are not a representative, but “only” for (moral) support, in that you can act together. So everything you say is considered to have been presented by those affected if they do not object immediately. Anyone can become an adviser. A rejection by the police is only possible under very strict conditions. For example, in the case of unsuitability: there must be intellectual (lack of expertise) or emotional (personal attacks) reasons for this. Don’t be so quick to get rid of yourself, because this is a very strong instrument to accompany the control critically and to give the affected person the feeling of not being alone. The police may not send you away because of “disturbance of the measure” and if they try it nevertheless: contradict!
Now it can really start: does the person have language problems and needs a translation? Should someone be informed?
Tell the person that he or she has the right to ask for the name and service number of the police (wo)men. The legal basis for this is § 8 sentence 1 SächsPolG (Saxon police law).
3. Attention of the police
At the latest after the declaration of assistance, the cops will also become aware of you. Ask calmly and friendly about the occasion, the legal basis and the suspicion for the control (even if they don’t need it anymore when establishing a weapon free zone).
Point them towards the prohibition of discriminatory controls. Article 3 Grundgesetz and the Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (General Equal Treatment Act) give you legal bases for this. If they have no legal basis (or suspicion), the control is inadmissible and illegal. You can ask them to stop the control and to delete all collected data.
If they also want to collect your data, only what is written on your identity card is obligatory to say. They cannot legally prosecute you for assistance as long as you do not become insulting or physical. Do not engage in provocation or intimidation! Oberserving police is definitly legal (https://www.buerger-beobachten-polizei.de/beobachter-rechtlicher-status/verwaltungsgericht-freiburg-bestaetigt-recht-auf-polizeibeobachtung)
As you progress, you can take pictures of the situation. You should prepare yourself so that cops can stress out when they see that. The legal situation with regard to photographing police(wo)men is difficult because they are the focus of the photograph as individuals and therefore, like everyone else, are protected by the “right to one’s own image”. However, you can argue that evidences are documented here and especially when physical violence is used by the police, there is therefore a public interest in the recording. All in all difficult, also because your camera or mobile phone can be confiscated. You can find a recommendable, but German, article on this at: https://www.rechtambild.de/2013/04/vorsicht-beim-fotografieren-von-polizisten/ and https://www.buerger-beobachten-polizei.de/rechtliches/rechtshilfe-demotipps#filmen.
Collect data from witnesses who are also observing the situation in order to later have evidence of the progress of the control.
You can also get loud and generate attention from outsiders. This will certainly annoy and unsettle the cops because they are now controlled by a wider public in their work.
5. Follow up Work
When the cops have left and the control is over you should follow up on what happened. You don’t need to have a guilty conscience that you couldn’t be a “real” help by preventing the control.
Our goal is usually already achieved through critical accompaniment and solidarity. Often we cannot do more, but it makes a decisive contribution to a neighbourhood based on solidarity.
Write now a Mail with a memory protocol and further questions, which you have, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember the arguments of the police. This will help you to prepare for the next time.
Racism and repression have never solved problems, only created new ones. To address the problems of the neighbourhood, different strategies are needed. As already mentioned above, many conflicts such as drug trafficking and theft can be traced back to structural inequality in the capitalist national state, so that this should be the starting point for criticism of local conditions.
By treating each other in solidarity, we can create perspectives for shaping one’s own life freely. This also means that nobody is discriminated against on the basis of origin, gender, sexual orientation or identity or economic status and that we intervene when we experience such behaviour.
The introduction of the weapon free zone is part of an expansion of state repression that can be observed both nationwide. The legal basis should be created by new police laws in almost all federal states (click here for the blog of the alliance against the Saxon Police Law: https://polizeigesetz-stoppen.de/ and https://keinpolizeigesetz.noblogs.org/). This not only means an increase in equipment, but also an expansion of police powers.
Although crime statistics refute this, an image of the Eisenbahnstraße as the “most dangerous street in Germany” is maintained. This increases social tolerance for repressive measures (control, surveillance, persecution). How far state structures can go to restrict freedoms and take rights until civil society comes up against them is first tried out in criminalised groups (e.g. football fans) and places. The fact that our district is also very migrant and alternative in character increases the interest of the authorities to control the streets and everything that happens, everything that lives.
We want to focus on the police as the repressive organ of a state that has a monopoly on the use of force and is therefore powerfully opposed to (almost) every person. This power is often used and especially in the course of left antifascist demonstrations, critical of capitalism and it comes again and again to police violence on demonstrators, press and medics. A lack of an independent complaints office also means that cops hardly have to reckon with consequences if they act disproportionately violently and/or discriminatory. Particularly with regard to migrants, they weigh themselves in the certainty that those affected will not file a complaint for fear of losing an already often insecure residence permit. This leads to numerous assaults.
In addition, it is known, especially through the Saxon police, that many officials with a right-wing/racist/national conservative attitude are among them, as shown not least by the order of a tank with Nazi emblems and the incidents during Pegida demonstrations. There is no doubt that their political opinion also influences their actions as police (wo)men.
Our commitment against discrimination stands in the context of a critique of the authoritarian development of society, which takes place both at the legal level (Police Law) and through civil society (mobilization of Nazis on 26 & 27 August 18 in Chemnitz, AfD election results).
“Kriminell ist das System – nicht wir“ (Criminal is the system – not us), as a self-organized campaign, works on three different points of reference:
We want to provide a point of contact for those affected. Therefore an e-mail can be sent to us with the experiences people have made, so that we can document the cases of discriminatory controls. Nobody should be left alone with these experiences and we want to promote the organization against the existing conditions. If it is desired and possible, a personal discussion can also take place in order to better understand the process of the control and also to offer emotional support. The anonymised results can also be used to exert pressure on the relevant authorities and to problematise racist practice, anonymised of course.
Secondly, we want to promote empowerment for those affected and supporters. This text, posters and workshops are intended to contribute to this. What is the legal basis for police action? How can I best intervene in a control? We also want to learn together how we can counter the state monopoly on the use of force.
And thirdly, it is important for us to build up pressure on the police, and this in connection with a radical criticism of the repressive policy and the exclusionary system behind it.
What kind of beautiful district would it be if, at every discriminatory police check a group of people immediately showed solidarity with those affected by stopping and intervening? The barrier of inhibition for cops to carry out controls will be higher if they then have to justify themselves constantly and are observed in their work.
We therefore call for not letting racist police control happen unhindered. Go, comment, criticise. And support each other!
We stand together against any kind of discrimination and authoritarian developments.
You would like to take part in the campaign or have questions? Then just send us an email.