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  • Daily Berlin news update: Friday, July 10

Berlin

Daily Berlin news update: Friday, July 10

Police clash with Rigaer Straße anarchists, BER terminal evacuated, Mietendeckel hit by staff shortages, and Deutsche Wohnen takeover curbed. Also: rowers threaten Senat with court.

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New police stand-off at Rigaer 94, fire alarm interrupts BER test run 

For two days running there has been a heavy police presence at Rigaer 94, the left-wing anarchist squat that has seen numerous previous stand-offs. 200 officers attended the apartment building for several hours on Thursday in order to search several flats as part of an investigation into an attack on a policewoman in January. This led to protests by Rigaer 94 residents, who clashed with police last night and again today as officers reentered the block to clear the cellar and attic. It’s the latest in a long series of confrontations between city police and various anarchist groups on the Rigaer Straße: last year, the police recorded more than 100 crimes on the street, with officers reporting being regularly attacked by those living there. Rigaer residents argue they are being forced from their homes by gentrification and privatisation.

Airport bosses said that testing of the terminal at BER is going well, despite a fire alarm forcing the evacuation of the building yesterday. This week 9000 volunteers have been taking part in a test run of the new airport, due to open in October, with “passengers” required to check in their bags and go through security as they would for a regular flight. It is not clear why the fire alarm – long a source of hiccups at BER – went off and the airports authority played down the incident. “There was no fire and no flames,” a spokeswoman said, stressing that the evacuation was carried out smoothly.

Rent cap hampered by staff shortage, Deutsche Wohnen forced to protect tenants

Just two of the 200 jobs needed to enforce Berlin’s Mietendeckel have been filled, according to the Senat Department for Urban Development. Both Senat and district authorities are desperate for staff to help with the mammoth task of managing the recently introduced rent cap, including ensuring that landlords respect the law and settling disputes over claims of excessive rent. The Senat said it expected more staff to join this month and described the recruitment process as “sufficient to good” according to the Tagesspiegel.

Elsewhere, a win (of sorts) for tenants: property firm Deutsche Wohnen has been forced to sign a pledge not to evict tenants or raise rents in 16 Berlin apartment blocks it is in the process of taking over. Following resident protests over the sale of the flats, district authorities in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte, Neukölln, Treptow-Köpenick and Tempelhof-Schöneberg have set out the conditions which include a 20-year moratorium on evictions and a ban on all modernisation unless required under energy efficiency rules. The city had threatened to halt the sale of the flats to Deutsche Wohnen under so-called Vorkaufsrecht rules if it didn’t concede. 

Protestors call for more culture funding, rowers threaten Senat with court

More than 300 people marched from Frankfurter Tor to Oranienplatz today to demand more support for the culture, nightlife and events sectors. Despite the weather, protesters gathered under the banner “Rettet die Veranstaltungsbranche” (“Save the event industry”) to draw attention to the precarious situation faced by those who make a living working at clubs, concert venues and festivals due to Corona. The federal government recently announced a €1 billion aid package for the arts, though the money has yet to reach all those that need it.

The Berlin Rowing Association is threatening the Senat with legal action because it is unable to hold training sessions because of the city’s Covid-19 restrictions. Due to the 1.5m rule and the typically small dimensions of boats, only members of the same family are permitted to row together, with exceptions for some professional rowers. With most other states in Germany allowing all rowers to return to the water, Berlin is an outlier and the rowers are not happy. “We are calling on the Senat to clarify that the practice of rowing in team boats is permitted under existing infection control rules,” said Karsten Finger, the association’s chairman. If this does not happen, Finger said a legal complaint will be filed at a tribunal.