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  • Berlin news update: Friday, February 19

Berlin

Berlin news update: Friday, February 19

Mayor defends AstraZeneca vaccine following row, AfD admits defeat over bike lanes, Ku'damm cash van robbed, police in organised crime raids, Hanau attack remembered, and petition submitted for citywide car ban.

Image for Berlin news update: Friday, February 19

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller has criticised people refusing to have the Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: IMAGO / Francesco Rossi

Mayor demands revised vaccine priorities following AstraZeneca row, legal case against pop-up bike lanes dropped

People who refuse to have the AstraZeneca Covid-19 jab should lose their entitlement to be vaccinated, Berlin mayor Michael Müller has suggested. “If you don’t want the vaccine, you’ve missed your chance,” the SPD politician told the Tagesspiegel in an interview yesterday. The comments come after numerous reports from across Germany that significant numbers of people who are entitled to the UK-developed shot are refusing to have it due to unfounded fears about efficacy and side effects. “I would get vaccinated with AstraZeneca immediately,” Müller said, and proposed that the unwanted jabs could be offered to teachers or police officers instead. The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently being offered to medical staff and care workers under the age of 65.

Berlin’s pop-up cycle lanes are here to stay after the Senat won a legal battle over a lawsuit launched by AfD politician Frank Scholtysek last year. Scholtysek dropped his case against the city government this week after conceding that a ruling last month by Berlin’s Higher Administrative Court made the removal of the lanes impossible. Last summer the AfD representative launched an initially successful complaint against the bike paths that the city rolled out in May 2020 during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kurfürstendamm cash van robbed, police raid 20 properties linked to organised crime 

Two security guards were injured during an attempted robbery of an armoured car on Kurfürstendamm this morning. The van was attacked by a group of armed men just before 10am as security guards were unloading cash in front of a Volksbank branch in the Charlottenburg district. It is not known how much money the attackers were able to take, though they reportedly made off with several boxes of cash. Police located the attackers’ escape vehicle in Kreuzberg – the suspects themselves remain at large. The attack is the latest in a series of secure van robberies to hit the city, with four previous incidents in the last six months.

Police raided dozens of properties across the city yesterday in connection with family crime gangs. A total of 500 officers from Berlin and Brandenburg police as well as federal officers and tax investigators took part in searches of 20 properties thought to be linked to drugs and weapons trafficking. According to reports, police were able to hack into an encrypted chat run by gang members, who discussed trading 20 machine guns amongst other offences. Police believe the individuals are connected with the 2019 jewel heist at the Grünes Gewölbe museum in Dresden

Events held to mark Hanau attack, petition submitted for citywide car ban

Events were held in Berlin today to mark the one-year anniversary of the racially motivated attack in Hanau last year in which nine people died. In Neukölln a banner with the names of the victims – who all had migrant heritage – was displayed above the town hall and 213 candles lit, reflecting the number of victims of right-wing extremist or racist violence since 1990. An anti-racism demonstration to mark the attack is due to take place on Saturday at 2pm at S-Bahn station Hermannstraße in Neukölln.

A campaign group demanding a de-facto ban on cars in Berlin’s city centre has submitted an official petition to the senate this week. Berlin Autofrei is calling for the city to introduce an annual limit of twelve car trips per person in a bid to drastically cut car use in the capital. “We want people to be able to sleep with their windows open and children to play in the streets again,” spokesperson for the group Nina Noblé told the Morgenpost yesterday. If the group can gather enough signatures, a citywide referendum on the proposals could be held in 2023.