The Berlin police’s account of the dispersal of the Revolutionary First of May demonstration amounts to a political fairy tale, which serves primarily as a justification for the arbitrary but targeted dispersal of the demonstration.
Here are some facts and corrections about the demonstration and its violent dissolution by the Berlin police.
Already in the run-up to the first of May, police spokespersons indicated that they expected a possible escalation, and also suggested possible scenarios for the dissolution of the demonstration. This was despite the fact that the demonstration alliance repeatedly emphasized the political goal of encouraging the residents of Neukölln and Kreuzberg to join the demonstration. Even before it began there were initial problems, such as late cordoning off of the streets so that the opening rally could not begin on time.
The alliance and the participants tried from the beginning to observe the rules of the Infection Protection Act. In fact, everyone wore masks. The demonstration leadership, the stewards and the loudspeaker trucks pointed this out again and again and were able to ensure compliance with the rules to a large extent, especially as soon as the demonstration began to run.
As also reported by journalists and representatives of the media – for example, by RBB in the Abendschau – the demonstration was loud, militant, anti-capitalist, but also relaxed, peaceful and according to the RBB reporter’s own statement, 99 percent of the participants wore a face mask and tried to maintain distances from each other.
Nevertheless, without prior warning and without informing the assembly leadership, the Berlin police split the demonstration in half around 20:00 in Karl-Marx-Strasse, encircled several blocks and groups of people and pushed them further together in a space that was already cramped due to construction sites. After the police leadership rigorously rejected the parking bans urged by the organizer during the cooperation meeting that would have allowed better compliance with the hygiene rules, the police themselves prevented compliance with the Infection Protection Act by separating and encircling large sections of the participants.
The police obviously wanted to drive a wedge between “good” demonstrators in the first block and “bad” participants in the following ones. We did not get involved in this attempt to divide – and we will not get involved in the future.
The alliance and the assembly leadership stopped the demonstration after they learned about the separation of half of the demonstration participants and demanded that everyone could rejoin the demonstration. The police, however, refused to discuss the matter and effectively deprived thousands of people of their right to freedom of assembly.
Instead, police forces began to maltreat and assault participants. Demonstrators were intimidated, arbitrarily arrested, and the entire demonstration was threatened with dispersal by the police because onlookers and residents had difficulty keeping their distance on the narrow, parked streets. Only after the police attacks on various parts of the demonstration, the situation escalated.
During this period, the inexperienced and obviously overwhelmed police liaison officers also “disappeared” without a trace, something that had never happened in the many years before. The alliance and the assembly leadership wanted to de-escalate the situation and continue the demonstration without repression by the police for the well-being of all participants. However, liaison officers and operations management were no longer available to the assembly leadership until the end of the demonstration.
The police began to attack the waiting demonstration procession from 20:30 and arrested hundreds of people. Police units brutally attacked bearers of banners and flags to prevent the continuation of the procession. By 9pm, the demonstration had effectively been broken up by the police. Only then did the organizers dissolve the demonstration.
The Berlin police chief ultimately spread the false report, adopted by numerous media without further verification, that the leader of the assembly had declared the demonstration over after he himself had been attacked by the crowd. This claim is simply false. The alleged attack never took place and the leader of the demonstration only learned about it from the media.
How this hoax was fabricated is beyond our knowledge. But its political purpose is clear. About 25,000 people who took to the streets against racism and sexism, against exploitation and housing shortage, against capitalism and imperialism, are to be politically defamed and discredited as irresponsible – and with them the class-struggle and revolutionary goals they represent.
The actions of the police show that they never intended to let the demonstration go all the way to Kreuzberg. They deliberately forced an escalation in Neukölln in order to discredit our message by dividing us before the eyes of the population and the press. It is clear there is nothing the rulers fear more than our unity and our solidarity. Therefore, they want to specifically prevent us from uniting in struggle, within the left and with the population. They will not succeed. Now more than ever: Yallah class struggle!
This article first appeared in German on the Website of the Revolutionary 1 May alliance. Translation Dillon C