Complaint against the Berlin police for their unjustifiable violence and discriminatory treatment

In our statement concerning the May 12, 2021 demonstration in Berlin-Neukölln, “Raise Your Voice to #SaveSheikhJarrah, #FreeGaza”, we reported on the outrageous police violence, discriminatory treatment and obvious racial profiling. As a result of the events here described, we have filed a complaint with the Police Complaints Board concerning the police’s use of unjustifiable force and its discriminatory treatment of the demonstrators. We have furthermore filed a complaint regarding discrimination with the LADG Ombudsman’s Office.

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Jewish Voice for just peace in the Middle East e.V.

Jewish Voice complaint against police violence and discrimination

May 14, 2021

As we have already reported, the Berlin police present at our demonstration acted with provocation, brutality and violence that seemed to be deliberate and clearly politically motivated. The question is who instructed the police to obstruct a protest organized jointly by Jews and Palestinians, and why?

Racism and racial profiling appear to be widespread among the German police, and are consistent with the ongoing criminalization of solidarity and civil action for Palestinian human rights, as well as other migrant-led autonomous social movements.

The escalating police violence against demonstrations by migrants and refugees in Germany is reminiscent of the violence experienced in situations of war and colonization. On May 1, the behavior of the Berlin police made Neukölln seem like a war zone. We call on the police leadership and the Berlin Ministry of the Interior to urgently change their policies and practices and protect the freedoms of speech, expression and assembly.

Berlin Police Department
Central Complaint Office

Complaint against the Berlin police for their unjustifiable violence and discriminatory treatment during the demonstration on May 12, 2021, in Berlin-Neukölln

Dear Sir or Madam,

The Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East e.V. registered a demonstration for May 12 in front of the Neukölln City Hall in Berlin. We were joined in this demonstration by the groups “Palestine Speaks” and “Jüdischer Antifaschistischer Bund (Jewish Anti-fascist Associattion)”.

As a human rights organization whose mission is to work toward peace in the Middle East, we called for this demonstration to express our rejection of the serious human rights violations, bombings and other forms of violence currently taking place in Palestine and Israel. The demonstration brought together Palestinian, Jewish and other residents of Berlin. Some of the participants have lost family members in Gaza in recent days.

During the demonstration, we experienced inappropriate police violence and discriminatory treatment towards the participants. We also ourselves experienced aggressive behavior towards us personally as organizers.

The official reason given was either the alleged disregard for the Corona regulations or no reason at all was given. However, all the individuals who were removed from the demonstration by the police were young non-white German men of Middle Eastern background, this even though the participants were of many different backgrounds and although the overall compliance with Corona regulations was excellent. This obvious targeting of young men of color  – most of whom were wearing masks, as can be verified – was by all appearances racially motivated. We also experienced aggressive behavior by the police toward us directly as organizers of the demonstration.

When we asked to speak to a communications team, we were told that no such team existed. When we tried to speak to a police officer, he said “I don’t know, I wasn’t at the meeting”. Our chairwoman of the board came with her grandchild but felt compelled to leave because of the police violence. Apart from the provocative and violent behavior of the police, the demonstration was carried out in a completely peaceful and safe manner for the demonstrators and their families.

The police systematically interrupted and silenced the speeches and tried to undermine the demonstration, for no obvious reason. The police continually played a recording of Corona and protest regulations loudly at the exact moment a speaker was beginning to speak. That this timing was coincidental is impossible – it happened again and again, during all the speeches. The speaker who spoke on behalf of our organization “Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East” was interrupted three times. Speakers who told painful stories about their family members who had been killed in the past few days were also silenced by the police sound system. The Corona and demonstration regulations were played repeatedly as if a mantra, even though we, the organizers, were constantly walking throughout the crowd, gently reminded them to mind these regulations and to thus in a friendly manner counteract any escalation by the police.

Both in preliminary discussions and on site, we, the organizers, repeatedly asked for time to act, should the need arise and to respect our role and responsibility as contact persons. We also asked the officail police liason repeatedly to contact us first before intervening, so that we could take the appropriate measures. This request was ignored.

On May 14, the police union – GdP Berlin published a statement concerning the demonstration [https://www.berlin.de/polizei/polizeimeldungen/2021/pressemitteilung.1085116.php ]. The photo and video documentation of the event proves irrefutably that the Corona regulations were respected, people were wearing masks almost throughout and had kept their distance. It was only the behavior of the police which made it impossible to maintain distance when they ran into the crowd and violently pushed and accosted people.

We regard this unlawful and outrageous behavior by the police at this demonstration as an attack on our freedoms of speech, expression and assembly. In our eyes, the behavior of the police represents a racist and discriminatory attack on the communal life of Palestians and Jews in Berlin. We ask for a comprehensive clarification of all relevant offenses described here.