Right-wing extremism in the police: Did not know anything about anything

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul is shocked about Nazi symbols in the police. He himself uses the cliché of the “criminal migrant”.

How could that happen? Herbert Reul is taken by surprise Photo: Marcel Kusch / dpa

In the scandal surrounding right-wing extremist police officers, North Rhine-Westphalia’s CDU interior minister Herbert Reul is currently carrying out his typical crisis management program: swastikas, pictures of Hitler, depictions of a refugee in a gas chamber are chats from at least 29 officers from the police station in Essen Mülheim an der Ruhr found. Reul is promptly shocked, horrified, and does not skimp on strong words: the “most disgusting agitation” is “a shame for the NRW police”, asserts the 68-year-old.

“Yes, you have to stick together, you have to rely on each other in emergencies. But conversely, you all swore an oath to abide by the laws and the constitution. And if a colleague doesn’t do that, you have to report it, that’s also your duty, ”said Reul in a WDR2 interview on Thursday morning, September 17th.

When asked why the five right-wing extremist chat groups had not been noticed earlier in the police station and what explanation he had for this, Reul said: “At the moment, not a real one, if I’m honest.” There are attempts to explain. “I think that too often the police still think they have to cover everything through camaraderie,” said Reul.

As in the scandal about the massive child abuse in Lügde, where 155 DVDs with evidence simply disappeared from the police’s evidence room, the former college teacher promises relentless clarification by special investigators. The man from Leichlingen near Cologne is thus serving his image that has been cultivated for years: Reul wants to appear tough but fair – as Minister of the Interior who defends and enforces laws and which his voters can trust for precisely that reason.

Copyright on the term “clan crime”

This image is important for the entire state government. Because NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet is considered too liberal by many in the CDU, the political professional Reul, as a former member of the state parliament, general secretary of the North Rhine-Westphalian Christian Democrats and European parliamentarian in the business for 35 years, should cover the right flank of his party against the AfD.

In the struggle for the Hambach Forest, which is threatened by lignite excavators, Reul identified among the occupiers as “chaos and those prone to violence from all over Europe”. In autumn 2018, the conservative, who has three grown daughters with his wife Gundula, had the tree houses of the climate protection activists evacuated by thousands of police officers for the lignite group RWE – today his boss Laschet prides himself on having “saved” the Hambach Forest.

Reul shows no consideration in integration policy either. The hardliner has the copyright on the term “clan crime” which he brought into the political debate. He was the first to take open action against “clans” of migrants who questioned the state’s monopoly of violence, and he was promoting the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia – and thus unspokenly strengthened the image of the “criminal foreigner”.

Because Reul irritates again and again with generalized, whole population groups discriminating slogans: “If we look at the Turkish fellow citizens, then we have crime problems with the third generation”, he explained on September 15 on ZDF in the talk show by Markus Lanz – one The day before the scandal surrounding the right-wing extremist officers of the Essen Police Department was discovered.

Others have known for a long time

Reul could have been warned: For years, anti-racist initiatives such as the “Bündnis Essen ist sich quer” (Essq) have been pointing out that parts of the local police clearly sympathize with right-wing vigilante groups like the “Steeler Jungs”. There have been several allegations that Essen police officers used excessive force against migrants. Essq spokesmen criticized as early as March that Reul’s strategy of “1,000 pinpricks”, which is primarily directed against migratory meeting places such as shisha bars, led to “institutional racism” and “racial profiling” not only in Essen.

Essen’s police chief Frank Richter, who did not want to hear anything from the right-wing radical chats of his officers for eight years, responded promptly – with a lawsuit for libel against the initiative. Reul is likely to be just as innocent today: around 1 p.m. he wants to make a statement in the state parliament about the swastikas and Hitler pictures of his police officers. He shouldn’t even mention that he himself strongly supports the cliché of the “criminal migrant”.