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  • John Riceburg: How the Berlin Police can storm your house without a warrant


John Riceburg: How the Berlin Police can storm your house without a warrant

If you were near Rigaer Straße on January 13 or the following days, you were in for quite a spectacle.

What’s going on? It all started the morning of January 13: a policeman was writing parking tickets and was attacked by four masked assailants. The police claim he was “beaten up”. A witness told the Berliner Zeitung: “He wasn’t beaten up, more like shoved.” In either case he was able to continue his patrol. The culprits supposedly fled into an occupied house at Rigaer Straße 94.

That night, the house was stormed by 500 police officers, including SWAT teams (called “SEK” in Berlin) and a helicopter. They rummaged through the house for seven hours and, according to a lawyer, entered almost every single apartment. Three children were not allowed to see their mother for hours.

So the police must have had a warrant, right? Since this is a Rechtsstaat and everything? Apparently the answer is no. According to Berlin’s Allgemeines Sicherheits- und Ordnungsgesetz (ASOG) of 2006, the police can have a look around a private house as soon as they felt there is an “imminent danger”.

Were they at least searching for the (supposed) attackers? Also no, according to a police spokesman. They just wanted to “demonstrate their resolve” to the neighbourhood’s notoriously leftwing inhabitants.

While ransacking the house, they found plenty of “dangerous objects”: metal bars, a supermarket trolley, nails, gas tanks and fire extinguishers – i.e. things one finds in old, rundown houses, especially in any leftwing Berlin housing project. On the roof, they even discovered a few old satellite dishes (which the BZ presented on Twitter as in those same remarkable words: “dangerous objects”). Before they left around midnight, they confiscated 10 tons of coal from the furnace in the basement.

It didn’t stop after one raid, either. The following Sunday, January 17, the police claimed they were attacked by a trash bag thrown from an upper window. An online video shows the officers were far away from the spot where the garbaged landed. But who cares? This time the police did get a warrant – for “attempted assault” – and raided more apartments.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Those people in the Rigaer are a bunch of dangerous anarchists. I’m a law-abiding citizen.” But remember, no one has actually charged the Rigaer inhabitants with any sort of crime – except for storing coal for their basement furnace. And the police repression is affecting thousands of residents who have to show an ID just to go to their homes. It’s the same kind of military-style siege established two years ago around the Ohlauer Straße.

Democratic rights are either guaranteed for everyone or they don’t exist at all. As Metronaut wrote: “I don’t have to be a friend of the Rigaer Straße to think the violations of basic rights are Scheiße.” And currently, we Berliners are losing our democratic rights because the police are afraid of a few punks.