|THE POLICE PROTECTED LAW-BREAKERS
THE POLICE PROTECTED LAW-BREAKERS
WHEN THEY ENABLED GERMAN RAILWAY
INC. TO START FELLING TREES IN THE NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER 30 / OCTOBER 1, 2010
IN THE ‘SCHLOSSPARK’ [PARC DE LA CHATEAU; CASTLE PARK].
THE EVENTS IN THE EVENING OF
AS IS KNOWN BY NOW, ABOUT 65,000
PEACEFUL STUTTGARTERS DEMONTRATED IN THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 30 AGAINST
THE FELLING OF LEGALLY PROTECTED TREES IN THE LARGE DOWNTOWN PARK.
WITH A BRUTALITY THAT WAS NEVER
SEEN DURING DEMONTRATIONS IN WEST GERMANY AFTER THE WAR, EXCEPT DURING
DEMONSTRATIONS OF STUDENTS AND OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE, THE POLICE
ATTACKED CHILDREN, SENIOR CITIZENS, MIDDLE AGED MEN AND WOMAN, YOUNGSTERS
ON THAT EVENING.
THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS ATTACK WAS AGAINST
A SIT-IN OF SCHOOL CHILDREN, AMONG THEM SEVEN-YEAR OLDS, SOME APPARENTLY
ACCOMPANIED BY THEIR GRAND-PARENTS. THESE AND OTHER ELDERLY PEOPLE WHO
WATCHED WHAT HAPPENED FROM NEARBY WERE ALSO SEVERELY ATTACKED. SOME
BECAUSE THEY WERE STANDING ON THE SIDELINES WHEN THE VIOLENT POLICE ACTION
OF CLEARING THE STREET BLOCKED BY THE SIT-IN OF CHILDREN STARTED, OTHERS
BECAUSE THEY TRIED TO PROTECT THE KIDS.
AT LEAST ONE WITNESS HAS TESTIFIED
THAT THE COMMANDER OF THE POLICE UNIT THAT BROKE UP THE CHILDRENS’ SIT-IN
ISSUED THE FOLLOWING COMMAND, “CLEAR THE SQUARE, NO MATTER HOW.”
THE POLICE USED VERY FORCEFUL WATER-CANONS
AGAINST THE CHILDREN; AND TWO ADULTS WHO TRIED TO SHIELD THE KIDS WERE
SEVERLY INJURED AND ARE CURRENTLY BLIND AND IN HOSPITAL; ONE OF THEM WILL
HAVE BOTH PUPILS OF HIS EYES REPLACED BY ARTIFICIAL ‘LENSES’ OR ‘PUPILS’
BUT IT IS NOT CLEAR WHETHER HE WIL THEN BE ABLE TO SEE, AS THE RETINA
HAS ALSO BEEN DAMAGED.
THERE WERE OTHER INCIDENTS, AGAIN
DUE TO POLICE VIOLENCE. THE GIESSEN DAILY REPORTED THAT BATONS, WATER CANONS,
AS WELL AS TEAR GAS AND PEPPER SPRAY (FROM A VERY CLOSE DISTANCE, SMACK
INTO THE FACE) WERE USED AGAINST PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATORS. IT ALSO
REPORTED THAT POLICE OFFICERS ON HORSEBACK WERE SEEN GALOPPING INTO THE
A COMMISSION ABOUT TO BE SET UP
BY THE GERMAN PARLIAMENT WILL INVESTIGATE THESE OCCURENCES WHICH THE HEAD
OF GOVERNMENT, MS. MERKEL AND OTHER POLITICIANS OF THE GOVERNING COALITION
DEFENDED IMMEDIATELY, JUSTIFYING USE OF FORCE BY THE POLICE WITH VIOLENCE
ON THE PART OF “SOME DEMONTRATORS.”
THE CORRESPONDING ACCUSATION MADE
BY THE STUTTGART POLICE THAT “BOTTLES HAD BEEN THROWN” WAS NOT REPEATED
LATER ON IN THE MEDIA AND WAS APPARENTLY DROPPED, AS IT COULD NOT BE SUBSTANTIATED.
ON THE CONTRARY, IMPARTIAL WITNESSES WHO DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE PROTESTS
TESTIFIED TO THE CONTRARY.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE NIGHT OF
SEPTEMBER 30 AND ON THE FOLLOWING DAY - OCTOBER 1
When the demonstration of September
30 in protest against the intended felling of all trees in the ‘Schlosspark’
had been forcibly dissolved, the police immediately started to shield the
felling of trees that was still only possible under police protection,
against possible obstruction (blockade of trucks, etc.).
The opponents sought an injunction
against the illegal felling of protected trees in the courts.
When a speedily adjourned hearing
occurred, German Railway Inc. withheld a decisive document nor did they
mention its existence. Thus, the judge did not know that in the afternoon
or evening of September 30, a letter by the supervisory authority regulating
German Railway Inc. had arrived which expressly forbade all tree-felling
action as long as the plans of German Railway Inc. had not been examined
thoroughly by this supervisory authority, the Federal German Railroad Authority.
The decision of German Railways
Inc. to suddenly begin with tree fellin action and with the destruction
of the Northern Wing of Stuttgart Central Station (a protected historical
monument) SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN DICTATED BY THE DESIRE TO CREATE DECISIVE
FACTS BEFORE THE SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY COULD REACH A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE
DECISION CONCERNING THE PLANNING DOCUMENTS AND THEIR MATERIAL IMPLICATIONS.
HOW THE GOVERNING COALITION REACTED
TO THE EVENTS IN STUTTGART
By mid-October, the press reported
that the government had decided, in cabinet session, to introduce an Act
in parliament that foresees stiffer penalties for “ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST
Already during the violent evening
in Stuttgart and immediately afterwards, leading politicians and the head
of state among them had “warned” DEMONSTRATORS against violent act, creating
an impression in the media and among uninformed citizens in the country
that such violence had occurred, while avoiding any mention on their part
of police violence.
The police was being applauded and
‘thanked’ for the job they had done.
When the media had reported the
fact that the new act was about to be introduced in parliament soon, the
media reaction on that day and the next one was curious. Even on the relatively
liberal WDR5 radio, the follow-up was a moderated broadcast which allowed
listeners to call in. It’s topic? “Do you feel sufficiently protected by
In view of what happened in Stuttgart,
a question occurs in the mind: “IS THIS BLACK HUMOR, THE MOST BLATANT ATTEMPT
TO FALSIFY THE TRUTH AND MANIPULATE PUBLIC OPINION, or an especially clever
way to provoke a critical reaction by those calling in?”
It is difficult to form an opinion
here without understanding the role of so-called mainstream media. Many
media prefer info-tainment and are interested in increasing - or
at least stabilizing, at a time of economic crisis - the size of their
(paying and/or non-paying) audience because these numbers affect intake.
Advertisers like large audiences. In addition, the interest of owners of
the (private) media and their political orientation openly or in less open
ways affects reporting. The liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung shows a clear
bias, in its reporting, in favor of the high-speed project, clearance of
the park and wrecking of the legally protected station building in Stuttgart.
This would not have been expected a number of years ago. In fact, until
a hedge-fund took over as owner, Süddeutsche Zeitung was a relatively
critical paper occasionally and it was in fact the only remaining slightly
left-liberal daily of nation-wide significance and with a nation-wide distribution
in Germany, since the very moment when the left-liberal Frankfurter
Rundschau was turned into a provincial daily with the typical low level
of professionalism that most of these provincial papers are known for.
From public television and even
from public radio we have no longer very muh too expect. Critical broadcasts
became much more rare in the late 70, in the 1980 and 1990s than had been
the case in the early and mid-70s. But if we thought it couldn’t get worse,
we were disproved. IT GOT A LOT WORSE IN THE LAST TEN YEAR OR SO; AND AGAIN
– WITH REGARD TO THE FLAGSHIP OF CRITICAL REPORTING IN THE RADIO, WDR5
– SINCE THE TIME MR: PLEITGEN WAS REPLACED AS THE DIRECTOR BY MS. PIEL.
THE MODERATORS AND COMMENTATORS WE KNEW AS RELATIVELY CRITICAL HAVE BECOME
A LOT MORE CAREFUL, IT SEEMS. AND INSTEAD OF BEING ENTRUSTED WITH TOUCHY
TOPICS, THEY ARE MUCH MORE FREQUENTLY THAN BEFORE FOCUSING ON TRIVIAL BUT
The programs that allow listeners
to call in, even on WDR 5, are not as interesting as before. Of course
the mechanism that governs the selection of people who can “VOICE THEIR
OPINION” and DEBATE WITH THE MODERATOR AND/OR A SO-CALLEED EXPERT has hardly
changed. THE APPLICATION HAS CHANGED, it seems. The trend is towards more
control, a more restrictive policy, something which was always so obvious
on public TELEVISION, of course, but that was that obvious in what we knew
as the so-called “third programs”, programs that used to target the better-informed,
often left-leaning listeners, especially in the case of WDR 3. The third
program of WDR, in the form we knew it, has been dismantled; the “ersatz”
provided, the new fifth program, became at best a watered-down version.
Now it is watered-down a bit more and still a bit more, and often you can
no longer recognize it and best turn it off. And still, listerners, all
sorts of listeners continue to call in.
THOSE ALLOWED TO BE PRESENT ON THE
RADIO HAVE TO GIVE THEIR NAME AND ADDRESS AND TELL A PERSON talking with
them in advance WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY. IT IS APPARENT to any wider-awake
and critical listener THAT THE POSSIBLE PARTICIPANTS ARE obviously SCREENED
AND SELECTED; AND OFTEN A BALANCE OF PRO AND CONTRA OPINIONS SEEMS TO BE
AIMED AT. The more radical views are excluded; however. IT IS APPARENT
TO FREQUENT LISTENERS THAT SHARP CRITICS HAVE TO TONE DOWN THEIR CRITICISM
OR CAMOUFLAGE THEIR POINT-OF-VIEW during the preselection (i.e. IN THE
INTERVIEW THAT IS NOT BROADCAST). “Coming out” once they are able to talk
to the moderator over the radio, these outspoken critics who voice opinions
outside the mainstream spectrum frequently find themselves tossed out after
the first brief critical statement. Certain moderator very curtly and even
angrily tell them, “THAT’S YOUR OPINION” and switch abruptly to the next
in line. Dull phoners who repeat what they have to say, on the other hand,
often are allowed ample time. Of course there are fine examples of professional
journalim when some reporters interview and politician and point out contradictions
in their statements.
But to allow citizens go rather
far in their criticism is seen as les and less desirable, no matter how
politely it is expressed. So the assumption that the topic referred to,
a topic that in itself projects an image of “THE POLICE AS PROTECTOR” right
in the wake of massive violence by a considerable number of policeman in
Stuttgart, was hardly intended to provoke sharp criticism is perhaps
quite true. A bit of carefully weighed, soft criticism and letting off
steam, perhaps – but balanced by contrary views. Such a program could HARDLY
provide a fair deal for the Stuttgart demonstrators. For some, at least,
this is disturbing.
WHAT THE COURT SAID ON OCT. 14(AS
REPORTED IN THE PRESS ON THE SUBSEQUENT DAY)
The court deciding the legality
of the tree-felling action that took place in the night of Sept. 30 and
especially on October 1 was the ADOMINSTRATIVE COURT (Verwaltungsgericht)
in Stuttgart. Its conclusion was unambiguous. The felling of the trees
was not legal [“nicht zulässig”], it concluded finally.
The implicit conclusion is that
the police, unwittingly or not, defended an illegal act by German Railway
The accusation of the chairman of
German Railway Inc., Mr. Grube, that the demonstrators were acting illegally
in trying to obstruct what now has been characterized by the court as an
illegal act committed by the privatized former state-enterprise German
Railway Inc., now lets him look pretty bad. When Mr Grube chided
65,000 participants of the Sept. 30 demonstrators who used their constitutional
right to protest as law-breakers, he may well have revealed a strange view
of democracy and civil rights. His main argument was that demonstrations
must not stop “progress” – a progress represented by the lucrative property
deals that will become possible when the large downtown park is cleared
of all its 300 trees. Mr. Grube did not fail to say that such important
projects as the one that he has in mind in Stuttgart must not be sabotaged
“by the street”, a pejorative expression that in the German language is
a synonym of “the mob”. Some will find it strange to see how wholeheartedly
politicians, including especially the German head of state, sided with
Mr. Grube and voiced similar charges in the direction of the protesters.
[PARTIAL QUOTE OF THE SUEDDEUTCHE ZEITUNG REPORT]
"Stuttgart – Das Verwaltungsgericht Stuttgart zweifelt daran, dass die
umstrittene Rodung von [bislang] 25 Baeumen am 1.Oktober [, darunter
der aelteste und vielleicht imposanteste in der Parkmitte, der für
beide Seiten symbolische Bedeutung hat, denn immerhin geht es um die geplante
Rodung aller dreihundert Baeume] fuer das umstrittene Bahnprojekt [in dessen
Windschatten eine große, prospektiv aeusserst lukrative Immobilienspekulation
auf dem durch das beabsichtigte Faellen der 300 Baeume freiwerdenden Terrain
durchgezogen werden soll] zulaessig war. Am Donnerstag ruegte es die Deutsche
Bahn [AG], weil sie in dem von der Umweltschutzorganisation BUND angestrengten
Verfahren um die Baumfaellarbeiten ein wichtiges Dokument vorenthalten
hatte. [...] Bei dem Schreiben handelt es sich um ein Schreiben des Eisenbahnbundesamts.[...]"
(Source: N.N., "Rüge für die Deutsche Bahn: Verwaltungsgericht
hält Rodung der Bäume in
Stuttgarts Schlossgarten für unzulässig", in: Sueddeutsche
Zeitung, No. 239, 15. Oktober 2010, p. 6)