Hamburg's toilet brush rebellion

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at
Fri Jan 10 19:46:34 GMT 2014

The toilet brush has become symbol of resistance in Hamburg after  
police retrieved one from a demonstrator in a body search

For pics and posters see 
>> here's a brief summary of events from <nbo at
>> * in the wake of a demonstration announced for 21 dec 2013 by rote  
>> flora and groups from the right to the city network in hamburg,  
>> local media ramped up reporting about expected violence for days.  
>> on 20 dec 2013 there was an attack on a police station in st.  
>> pauli that was immediately incorporated into the prevailing  
>> paranoia (though even three weeks later it's not clear who the  
>> attackers were). the demonstration was announced to defend rote  
>> flora, to support the tenants of the evacuated esso houses on  
>> reeperbahn and to demand a right to stay for the lampedusa group  
>> of refugees that has been in st. pauli since spring 2013. needless  
>> to say that the media did not pick up the reasons for the  
>> demonstration in the first place but focussed on potential clashes.
>> * then on saturday 21 dec 2013 10.000 people gathered for the  
>> demonstration in the schanzenviertel on schulterblatt, the street  
>> adjacent to the rote flora. there were two sections in the  
>> demonstration, an anarchist block and a "colour" block of right to  
>> the city groups, each with a speaker car. when the demonstration  
>> started at 15:09 h, police immediately stopped it. the stopping  
>> was later blamed to attacks on the police before the start,  
>> however video footage showed that this was not the case (http:// 
>> there is evidence that the  
>> police had intended from the beginning not to let the  
>> demonstration start at all (for example, police forces were  
>> concentrated in the starting point, there was hardly any police  
>> along the announced route). what followed was a polizeikessel  
>> (closing in) of thousands of protesters by police over two hours  
>> when the police blocked all exit streets of the schanzenviertel.  
>> this was accompanied by attacks of special forces into the  
>> protesters (e.g.  
>> and by the use of water cannons and tear gas. for all of us who  
>> were in the midst of this situation it quite resembled the  
>> pictures from taksim square last summer. later people moved out of  
>> the kessel into st. pauli to build barricades and smash shop  
>> fronts. the right to the city speaker car eventually managed to  
>> move through and around police lines next to the esso häuser and  
>> make a spontaneous demonstration there for 90 minutes.
>> here's a 27-min-video about the demonstration by utopie TV: http:// 
>> * in the days since the 21 dec there's been an intense debate  
>> about the clashes. local media supported mostly the view of police  
>> and law & order politicians that only the protesters were to  
>> blame. however, there were at least some voices critical of the  
>> police among left-wing politicians. the right to the city network  
>> issued a statement condemning the police escalation strategy.
>> * on sunday, 29 dec 2013 the police of hamburg issued a press  
>> release which stated that the same police station (the so-called  
>> davidwache on reeperbahn) had been attacked a second time the  
>> night before, with one policeman heavily injured. the local media  
>> immediately picked up the story and attributed the attack to left  
>> activists/anarchists though this had not explicitly been stated in  
>> the press release. policemen set up a solidarity page on facebook  
>> that gained more than 50.000 likes. leaders of a police union  
>> rushed in and publicly demanded the permission to use guns and  
>> tasers in future conflicts. nobody questioned the press release  
>> though even after days police did not come up with any evidence  
>> (like videos from surveillance cameras or passers-by). an analysis  
>> on the media reception of the press release can be found here (in  
>> german):
>> * on 3 jan 2014 the police issued the implementation of a danger  
>> zone (gefahrengebiet) in four inner city quarters, thereby  
>> criminalising 80.000 people. the danger zone - taking effect on 4  
>> jan 2013, 6 AM - is unique to hamburg, no other cities or federal  
>> states have it in this scope. introduced in 2005 it gives police  
>> the right to control any person independent of any evidence, ask  
>> for ID card and search pockets and bags for objects, to expel  
>> people for a certain time from the danger zone (to issue a  
>> "platzverweis") or to order residents not to leave their homes, if  
>> the police sees a reason that a person would present a danger to  
>> the zone. the whole measure is set up without any judicial  
>> permission, the police in this case assumes judicial power itself.  
>> there's been a debate whether the danger zone concept is a breach  
>> of the constitution but with no effect so far.
>> * on 5 jan 2014 lawyer andreas beuth issued eye witness reports  
>> that the alleged second attack on the police station had never  
>> taken place in the way the police had stated it had had happened.  
>> in the days following further evidence from witnesses came to  
>> light, and eventually the police backed down step by step from  
>> their version. now it looks like the "attack" had been a routine  
>> incident between drunken reeperbahn visitors and police, something  
>> that happens regularly in this area. nevertheless that means that  
>> the police has invented an incident in order to restrict basic  
>> rights for 80.000 inhabitants - something that is unparalleld in  
>> today's germany so far. media have only reluctantly picked up this  
>> development.
>> * since the implementation of the danger zone there has been lots  
>> of spontaneous protest actions each night. there was a tv news  
>> report in which police produced a toilet brush from the trousers  
>> of a passer-by with the effect that the toilet brush has become  
>> the symbol of resistance throughout the danger zone (for pictures  
>> see for example 
>> kreativprotest137.html). yesterday, on 9 jan police announced that  
>> the danger zone would be reduced to smaller "danger  
>> islands" (gefahreninseln) around three police stations. however,  
>> taken together these gefahreninseln still comprise a significant  
>> area in st. pauli and altona (each with a diameter of more than a  
>> kilometer). so the situation is far from being resolved and  
>> protests will continue.
>> the right to the city network hamburg will issue a statement in  
>> the next days.
>> cheers, nbo
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>> International Alliance of Inhabitants
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