The Last Generation criticises “torture-like methods” during an eviction, a blocker even gets his wrist broken. He could end up as a “violent offender” in the police statistics.
“If I inflict pain on you, if you force me to, you will have pain chewing and swallowing for the next few days – not only today,” a Berlin police officer says to a participant of a sit-in blockade on the Straße des 17. Juni on Thursday. A few seconds later, the young man is dragged off the street; one policeman presses on his larynx and pulls him up by the jaw, another twists his arm. The protester slumps to the ground and writhes, screaming in pain.
A video of the so-called pain grips can be seen on the Instagram account of the public broadcaster MDR and has been controversially discussed on the internet for days. Many commentators accuse the police of assault in the line of duty and express doubts about the rule of law. Although the police have a monopoly on the use of force, they must use it carefully. There is also malice and approval of the police action among the postings.
Last Generation, which organised the protest on Thursday, described the painful grips as “torture-like methods used on peaceful protesters”. It said these were “common practice” in Berlin and Hamburg. On Sunday, the organisation posted another video online showing a protester with a plastered, apparently broken wrist. This was the result of painful grabs at a protest on Wednesday.
Several police unionists justify the violence. It is “direct coercion”, which does not look good, but is “part of our legal system”. To cast doubt on this is a “perpetrator-victim reversal”, they say. The criminologist Tobias Singelnstein, whom MDR lets have his say in its video, sees it differently. According to him, the police must first examine what is the mildest means. In the case of peaceful sit-in blockades, this is “as a rule” the carrying away, according to Singelnstein.
Felix Sengespeik of the critical police association PolizeiGrün shares this criticism when asked by “nd”. The police have a cascade of possibilities to get blockers off the street. “I also don’t understand why they don’t react creatively in Berlin: The officers could get a sling from the patrol car and just carry the people away, or get a wheelbarrow for that.” Sengespeik is also bothered by the hectic pace of clearing blocked roads. The police could divert the traffic and then devote themselves to the measure in peace, Sengespeik told “nd”.
On Friday, the Berlin Senate published the police crime statistics for 2022, which show an increase in violent crimes against police officers. Demonstrators who get carried away are also recorded as perpetrators of violence. The police did not want to answer “nd” whether this also applied to protesters last week. The “criminal classification and registration” depends on the legal examination of the individual case. There is no result yet on the case of Thursday, they say.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: Last Generation (Twitter).