Berlin: Some impressions from anti-eviction protest in Kreuzberg

previous updates here

Below is a brief update from street protest against the besiege of the refugee squat in Ohlauer Street, in Kreuzberg, threatened with complete eviction since the 24th of June. We write this down to share what we experienced on July 1st, hoping that it can somehow help comrades to form a view of the situation.

We reached the district at around 16:00 and after moving around to check where the cops had set their blockades, we headed to Ohlauer Street, where the squatted school is located, surrounded by massive police forces. On the roof of the former school building you could see 2 or 3 people, while in the junction of Ohlauer with Reichenberger Street there was a crowd of about 500 protesters. The anti-riot cops had moved their metal barriers forward, gaining some meters of ground, and were set in line with full-body armor and tens of police vans on the back. There was no way for people to get close to the entrance of the building, apart from breaking violently through police lines, something that was out of the question at the moment, given that we were outnumbered by the pigs, but mainly due to the character of the gathering that was all but combative.

Outside the Tempest Library there were 2 info-points, meaning 2 tables with a bunch of people sitting behind them and organizing stuff (we failed to understand what exactly these matters were). At the same time, in the middle of the street there was a small van with a sound system, from where people (mainly hip-hopper refugees and migrants) were spitting out rhymes and singing. Most of the protesters were sitting on the ground, having their back at the cops and watching the improvised gig. We find that moments of free expression on the streets are really important on a daily basis, but we consider that joyful festivities in crucial occasions like this one are at least naive, if not reactionary. The general feeling was that of a pacified civil-rights protest or a street party, stripped by any notion of rage against the militarization of the zone by police forces. Additionally, music and announcements through the microphone were continuous, leaving no room for slogans to be shouted, practically obliging people to the role of spectators.

Nevertheless, what we find completely irresponsible on the part of those that call and/or organize these protests is the fact of accepting (if not inviting) the Press on the spot. TV vans, cameras, photo-reporters and journalists were mingled with protesters, filming, taking photos and generally recording and monitoring everything. It is not to our knowledge if there were comrades among the crowd that had the same opinion with us, but preferred to keep a low profile. However, there was no visible reaction from anyone against this de facto presence of mass-media fuckers. First we addressed to an info-point, explaining it did not feel like a safe environment for demonstrators, since all of our moves were under surveillance not just by cops but also by the Press, only to receive the answer that there were people that wanted the media to be present (among them also refugees). We tried to shout slogans (‘The Press is working for the State; journalists get the fuck out now!’) but in vain, since our voices were covered by the sound system.

After a while we moved on the corner of Lausitzer and Reichenberger streets, a block away from the refugee school, where cops had kettled a group of nearly one hundred demonstrators who were carrying out a sit-in in order to block more police vans that were directed towards Ohlauer Street. The spirit was slightly better there, as people were shouting slogans clear and loud, but the action did not exceed the limits of civil disobedience. Under circumstances, sit-ins can in fact be effective in terms of blocking the cops from moving forward, but there is no guarantee for the activists that police boots won’t step on their heads whenever they feel like it. The cops exercised violence against protesters, but did not manage to storm the sit-in; then they made sure to spread more terror by bringing onwards police squads wearing black uniforms and balaclavas covering their facial characteristics. There’s no doubt; the State is the only terrorist.

We stayed in the area until about 20:00, moving from one sit-in to another (they were at least 2 more in the district). Before deciding to leave the place, we briefly intervened in the festivities in Ohlauer Street when the music stopped, stating out loud that the mass media is the voice of the enemy and so they should be kicked out immediately. The Press is to a large extent responsible for preparing this eviction in terms of propaganda, and it is really sad to see that some people don’t recognize the obvious. This struggle, as any other partial fight, will either be radicalized and assumed by both refugees and people in solidarity as an episode in an ongoing social war, or it will end up being mediated and assimilated by Power.

Here is a document dated on the 1st of July with various demands (signed by a different number of people), in an attempt of some refugees to reach an “agreement” with the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district officials, and prevent their judicial prosecution and violent eviction from the Gerhart Hauptmann Schule.

Meanwhile, the federal minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, urgently applied for a vote on the tightening of asylum legislation, which will practically make it impossible for people (it aims against Roma in particular) coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia or Serbia, among others, to get asylum in Germany since the law will change the status of such regions into “safe countries of origin”. The German parliament is expected to decide about this racist bill in an accelerated proceeding.