“What is going on out here?” my lesbian friend Bernice said recently in a short WhatsApp voice message.
Living on Adalbertstraße right near Kottbusser Tor, it’s a question I ask myself weekly – nearly every left-leaning protest in the city marches right underneath my nose at some point. But the question is usually prompted by loud noises in the late afternoon or evening. It was neither loud nor late; it was 9:00 in the morning. I leaned my head out my front window and saw a swarm of white and blue. On Wednesday, February 13, Kottbusser Tor’s hotly-contested police station, also known as the Kotti-Wache, officially opened for… business?
Queers are outsiders, marginalised, outliers. And we should stand with other marginalised outsiders
It had been on everyone’s lips – from locals to politicians – for a couple of years now. Officially stationing police in Berlin’s traditionally leftist/punk/queer heartland? Leaflets had been handed out, speeches held on crates next to the fruit stand, info sheets taped to doors. But nothing could stop it. And now that the unthinkable has happened – the CDU overwhelmingly took the majority vote in February’s repeat elections – it’s certainly not going anywhere for a while.
Another text from an older gay friend in his late forties came in: “You know, things are getting shifty around here these days – a lot of shady people. And with these new drugs they’re selling…” I myself wasn’t aware that heroin had gotten an upgrade. This rationalisation was pretty brazen. I had to have a think. Is this the world I want to live in? Is this why I came to Berlin? Cops were everywhere on Oranienstraße and in Kotti that day. No! It’s not.
On Wednesday, February 13, Kottbusser Tor’s hotly-contested police station officially opened
I may not have ACAB tattooed across my forehead or march with Black Bloc on May 1, but I still know that the solution is never more cops. I couldn’t get over my friend’s defence of the police presence. He continued to rationalise our new Bullen overlords by using the example of a young gay friend of mine who ended up in hospital from a late-night attack – he was found by a stranger bleeding on the Kottbusser Tor’s concrete floor with no memory of what actually happened, an unfortunate victim of events after one too many drinks.
I may not have ACAB tattooed across my forehead, but I still know that the solution is never more cops
“Maybe it’s good the police are here – look how long it took them to find John,” he pointed out. The solution to John’s predicament, however, isn’t constantly being in the presence of police officers in case something happens. A passerby found him and called 112 – as it should be. We should all be looking out for each other, and not relying on cops. You know who has never been good for the marginalised? The police. There’s a good chance that queers may find themselves blamed, or worse, punished, instead of protected from any violence.
It also made me wonder: are we all destined to soften our stances as we get older? We used to pride ourselves on standing against the norm because the norm always stood on top of us. Queers are outsiders, marginalised, outliers. And we should stand with other marginalised outsiders: the dealers, the junkies, the down-and-out. That’s what Kreuzberg has always stood for. Solidarity on the edge.
If you’re someone who has Angst vor Kotti, queer or not, maybe Kreuzberg 36 isn’t for you. There’s still plenty of Berlin left for you to gentrify, though.