On Friday, November 26, hundreds of anti-fascist activists demonstrated in front of the police headquarters in Cologne, Germany, protesting the spike in police violence in the city. The call for the mobilization was given by the Anti-fascist Action Alliance of Cologne in the wake of recently revealed chats by police officers of Cologne-Ehrenfeld supporting violence against suspects. The protesters demanded strict action against the police officers involved in such violent acts. They also demanded the resignation of Herbert Reul, the interior minister of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), for failing to stop the recurring criminal activities by the State police and putting an end to the police-far right nexus. The NRW State authorities had earlier announced that six officers are under investigation in connection with the chats.
Last week, Kölner Stadtanzeiger exposed a chat between some police officials of Cologne-Ehrenfeld saying that “on the next patrol we will definitely arrest someone and break someone.” In another message, after an operation in December 2020, a policeman reportedly said that he had “given the Turk a kick yesterday,” adding, “Seriously, he flew hard.”
Junge Welt reported that following a police operation in the district of Bickendorf last April, a 59-year-old man was badly beaten and died of blood poisoning in June, which may be related to the rib fractures he suffered during the operation.
Prior to the mobilization on Friday, the Anti-fascist Action Alliance of Cologne demanded that “the NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul must take responsibility and resign now. Reul avoids any consequences for the illegal police behavior. It was only last year that there were investigations into at least 275 (known) extreme right-wing suspicion cases among the police in NRW in which the city of Cologne was ranked 3rd with at least 21 cases. These have actually only led to actions in a few cases while hundreds of cases were simply stopped.”
The alliance also called out Reul’s support for a new law of assembly which gives police officers extensive powers to control protests and demonstrations in the city. “The basic right to freedom of assembly is placed in the hands of individual police officers by law and therefore suspended at will. This Interior Minister creates the legal basis and the atmosphere in which such bandits feel safe in the police,” the group added.
The Christian Democratic Union-Free Democratic Party (CDU-FDP) coalition government in NRW has proposed the notorious law on assembly under the pretext of curbing violent far-right demonstrations. The bill calls to penalize mobilizations where participants wear some sort of uniform. It is likely to target not only neo-Nazi groups, but also Antifa groups and football fans. It has been slammed by progressive sections as a move to curtail freedom of assembly and the right to protest in the State. Several progressive groups in the State have formed a platform called the Alliance to Stop the Assembly Act of NRW to resist the bill.
On November 11, the NRW committee of Die Linke (The Left) demanded an inquiry by an independent commission into the death of a 25-year-old man after he was intercepted by the police earlier that month at a crime scene in Wuppertal. Die Linke also demanded the NRW justice minister Biesenbach (CDU) “issue a circular ordering that all deaths in police custody and prisons be published immediately and not only as a result of public pressure.”
“When people die when they are in police custody and prisons, it is always relevant to the public. In addition, it shall be ensured that each case is investigated by an independent commission,” Die Linke said.
The German security forces including the police are facing serious criticism over the far-right-police nexus and the exposure of far-right secret cells within the police force. On the occasion of the tenth year of the unmasking of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Socialist Underground (NSU), thousands of anti-fascists marched in Berlin on November 4 to protest the spike in right-wing assaults in the country and the state’s inaction in such crimes. There have been strong allegations of collusion between the police and intelligence officers and the NSU. Certain threatening emails received by notable rights activists and left-wing politicians from the NSU were traced back to a police computer in Frankfurt.