Berlin: Some impressions from May 1st

«We are here! We are everywhere! We live in betonblocks! We eat shit! We breathe death! We will wait no more! Α | Anarchist Group Cement-stone | We are throwing the stones back to you»

This is a brief report-back from May 1st demos in Berlin. It is written by a newcomer, so it might not be that interesting for people who already know the context of the day in relation to the city, but hopefully it can give an idea to those unaware of how things move on this specific date in the German capital.

We were a small group of comrades that reached Kreuzberg at around 17.00 in order to join the first, unauthorized demo, and then wait for the second one, lets say the official, which is also the main event of the day in terms of political protest. When stepping out of the train one gets the first shock. Thousands of people are crowded in the area, drinking, eating, listening to all kinds of music, and generally consuming and partying. We managed to make it through the big mass of people into Mariannenplatz, the meeting point for the first demo. As I was explained, all these festivities were nothing but a good example of how capitalism can assimilate the meaning of May Day, among other things of course. This unauthorized demo aimed also at bringing back a little bit of the fighting spirit in the area. It was an anticapitalist demo, meaning that one could find many variations of leftists and anarchists participating.

The protesters started moving through the streets of the district, in between the party-animals mass, waving flags and shouting slogans. Every now and then, the pace of the march was changing and people were literally running for 100 meters or more. That is a tactic to avoid being trapped by the cops, who have indeed tried at least once to block the protest but with no success. In terms of numbers, there were more than 1,500 people trying to interrupt the consumers flow and light up the spirit a bit. After almost 45 minutes we reached Lausitzerplatz (still in Kreuzberg), the gathering point for the next demo, that was called for 18.00.

We moved around the park to check what the composition of the people waiting to march was, and after suffering almost for an hour the horseshit of the organizers from the megaphones, we finally took to the streets. I was not really able to recognize what each block was standing for, but the general impression was that there were mainly leftists, socialists, ecologists and scattered smaller groups of anarchists. I cannot say that I enjoyed that second demo, as I did with the first one. Though there were more than 20,000 people on the streets, the general feeling was definitely not a combative one. It was somehow like a walk and a funeral at the same time. One or two slogans now and then, loud music and more shitty talking from the megaphones, since those on the demo-tracks thought it was funnier to cover people’s voice with their propaganda, than to leave them speak by themselves. In any case, the majority of the protesters did not really look like wanting at least to chant wide and loud. Riot cop squads were not visible until the middle of the itinerary, but they were lurking in the side-streets in large numbers. Police helicopters, cops on the roofs filming, journalists and tourists taking pictures, plain clothes cops mingled with the demonstrators, with police vans in line.

Well, that was more or less all I saw. We decided not to stay till the end of the demo, given we were not in the mood to get busted for no reason. People on the street were extremely relaxed, and in their vast majority not organized to defend a possible attack from the cops, or to pass first on the offensive.

Other comrades, that made it to the end, report that there was at least one dynamic moment close to Hermannplatz in Neukölln district where the cops tried to intervene against the demo but were pushed back. From Südstern metro station and onwards police forces cordoned the march, leading to skirmishes with the protesters, since people resisted their attempts to split the demo. However, on one occasion the front bloc was kettled by riot squads. In the end, the huge mass of people was led through a very narrow street. Even though this created a claustrophobic ambient, it also made it difficult for cops to arrest people at that moment, since there was no coming forth and back. The final destination point was the offices of the SPD party. Given there was not enough space for the crowd, cops managed to control the scene leaving the vast majority of protesters on the outside. On the way back to Kreuzberg there were minor hit and run exercises, and at Kottbusser Tor metro station some bottles and many fireworks were thrown to the repressive forces, but nothing special all in all.

Cops made 65 detentions; well, they had to justify their massive presence in the area (7,000) somehow.

Just for the story, here are some of the slogans shouted by our small group:

In German:
The State is the real terrorist
Work is the real terrorist
A for revolt, a for anarchy (to oppose the a-anti-anticapitalista)
Solidarity, anarchy, resistance

In English:
Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prisons

In Spanish:
Freedom for anarchist prisoners
International and insurrectionary struggle, death to the States and the Capital

In French:
First, second, third generation, we are all migrants children

In Italian:
Anarchy, destabilization, direct action, insurrection