No justice? No peace!
Justice for Georgios!
Stop police brutality and repression!
On January 29th 2022, come to Wuppertal to the protest by the Forum Against Police Brutality and Repression NRW.
29.01.2022 | Wuppertal main station | 13:00
Georgios, Max, Alexander; these are the names of the people who lost their lives at the hands of the police in Wuppertal in the last few years. The most recent person to die in police custody after a brutal arrest was Georgios on November 1st, 2021 in Wuppertal Elberfeld. Reports about the death of Georgios Zantiotis were only made after five days and public pressure. According to own statements, this was the decision of senior prosecutor Wolf-Tillman Baumert. Translated quote: “I decided that. It concerned a natural cause of death. I did not consider this to be newsworthy.”
Baumert tried to justify his silence afterwards with his alleged intention to protect the Georgios’ family. We consider this decision to be flimsy and cold-blooded. We do not believe that Baumert wanted to protect the family of Georgios. The senior prosecutor rather wanted to protect the Wuppertal police from questions, criticism and protests.
The increasing amount of questions, criticism and protests in Wuppertal are no wonder as people have been dying on a regular basis in connection with the Wuppertal police for a while. Alexander was killed in his apartment with three submachine gun shots from a policeman in June 2021 after knocking off car mirrors with a “commercially available 2 kilo hammer” (WZ). The frequency of deaths in connection with the police is shocking and reveals the massive problem that (not only) we in Wuppertal have with the police.
Those responsible (conditions)
A situation in which we hear from people dying in police custody or are shot or abused by the police more and more frequently doesn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere. The interior minister of NRW Herbert Reul, with his extremely authoritarian and racist politics, is main responsible for the intolerable situation.
No month passes in NRW without razzias against alleged clan criminality. With these operations, whole streetscapes are shut off and all people present are checked by the police. These streets are never in wealthy districts but rather in districts of workers and migrants. Even though there is never more to be found than a few grams of hashish or maybe a few kilos of untaxed shisha tobacco, the interior minister and the police continue their aggressive and discriminatory practices. In Wuppertal, the areas of the Berliner Platz in the district of Oberbarmen, as well as the Gathe in district of Elberfeld, are especially affected.
In spite of numerous protests, this NRW interior minister Reul, along with the CDU/FDP government, implemented an authoritarian and repressive law of assembly for NRW in December 2021, as well as a new police law in 2018. These laws give the police even more power than they already have. This supports individual cops’ sense of superiority and manifests in their appearance on the streets. Most police officers act as if disagreeing with them, watching or even criticizing their actions were serious crimes. Accordingly, aggressive and authoritarian is their appearance.
At the same time, right-wing networks and so-called Nazi chats were uncovered during interior minister Reul’s office term. In these chats, hundreds of police officers everywhere in NRW are organizing and networking. Reul denied structural problems after each and every “regrettable individual case” and doesn’t understand the Nazi problem as a structural one even after the chat groups were uncovered. Neither are there identifiable right-wing tendencies on a larger scale, nor right-wing networks – this is the conclusion a situation report of the NRW interior ministry, published in March 2021, made.
Especially in Wuppertal, the judiciary system is known for demanding (prosecution) and passing (judiciary) very severe sentences. Political activists have had to experience this at first hand many times. Be it climate activists, antifascists or protesters on the Autonomous May Day: At first they’re harassed or even abused by the police, then they’re brought to court by the prosecution where some judge punishes them with draconian sentences. It is significant that the prosecution that is known for going excessively after leftist attendants of May Day, is now drawing attention to itself and senior prosecutor Wolf-Tilman Baumert with very questionable decisions in the case of the death of Georgios.
Responsible for the outlined conditions in Wuppertal is also police president Markus Röhrl. His predecessor Radermacher was a very unpleasant herself, but the Wuppertal police has increased its brutal and authoritarian appearence on the streets of Wuppertal even more since Röhrl has become police president. The deaths of Max, Alexander and Georgios all occurred in his term of office.
These three men – Reul, Baumert and Röhrl – allegedly want to ensure “law and order” in the land and Wuppertal. For many people this means fear and terror.
Rounding up the ugly picture…
Wuppertal is officially portrayed as multicultural and open to the world; the reality is very different: Many people live in poverty and/or have to work hard for little money. The city tries to reduce spending on all ends and makes life unpleasant for people who cannot afford a bus ticket, for example. The city of Wuppertal, suffering from acute money scarcity, counts to one of more than 30 JVA (prison) locations in NRW, having a school for law enforcement officials and two prisons. In the last weeks, people died in both JVAs. In both cases it is stated that they killed themselves. The 42-year-old man that was found dead in his cell in JVA Vohwinkel was incarcerated for using public transport without a valid ticket. The 17-year-old teenager in JVA Ronsdorf was in investigative detention for not owning valid papers.
Wuppertal is an example for a society in which the massive social contradictions are to be solved with police brutality and prisons. A society in which there is no space for some people, maybe with killing oneself as the only apparent escape.
Covid is taking the situation to an extreme
We can say that Germany’s anti-Corona measures of the ruling class, acting primarily using pressure and control, have intensified the problem even further. Through these so-called measures, civil rights are not only restricted, but the burdens are – as always – distributed very unevenly. People who can’t work from home have to continue going to the workplace, no matter how bad the Covid situation is. Especially workers with low-wage jobs rely on public transport for their commute to work. These people often don’t have the possibility to keep a safe distance from others. The new 3G policy in public transport means another everyday situation of police checks that can’t easily be avoided. This especially negatively affects those with a precarious residency status or no permanent residence. The same applies to curfews and bans on demonstrations.
All those “measures” affect poorer people and migrants unevenly stronger – just like the society of control that is acutely taking root during the pandemic. The police profits to an unbelievable extent from the form of pandemic response that increasingly grants it more and more controlling powers. Their increase in power is enormous and they are, of course, strictly enforcing the compliance with all the unjust policies. And who will be affected more, if a felt half of the police officers are involved in Nazi chat groups?
Escalating police brutality, poverty, injustice, lies and cover-ups by the ruling class. Wuppertal is not an isolated case!
Not only will we be taking the protest to the streets on January 29th, 2022. We will not forget Georgios, Max, Alexander and those unknown by name. Wuppertal has a massive police problem that we have to tackle! But the problem goes beyond Wuppertal: In December, a 24-year-old and a 19-year-old died in police custody in Düsseldorf and Cologne. Also, in Cologne, it was made public that cops beat up the 59-year-old Gaetano B. so brutally that he probably died from the resulting injuries. On the cops’ mobile phones, arrangements about orgies of violence were found.
This terrifying and horrible list could be continued further, even in the state of NRW. The police are, however, an international problem and resistance is growing worldwide. People are no longer willing to accept police brutality. Let’s also start and continue our resistance against the police together!
What do we do about the police or how does a society without police look like?
This discussion is long overdue! We have to find a way to abolish the police. This means to fight for a society in which poverty, oppression and racism belong to the past. Police does not exist to protect or help us but rather to protect the wealthy from the poor and to uphold the deeply unjust order of property. We’re still at the beginning of this fight, but we must learn to see the police as what it is and not as what they’re portraying themselves as.
Starting off by not calling the cops
A first small step that we’d like to propose: don’t call the cops – simply because it’s too dangerous. Police are not there to solve problems for us; they are completely unsuited, untrained and unready for this task. It’s difficult, but we have to learn to build neighborhoods and to solve the many problems that people have with each other, together. Maybe we can accomplish, step by step, the prevention of the next deaths on the streets, in the own apartment or in police custody!
To the streets! Justice for Georgios and all victims of state violence! In Wuppertal and everywhere