Presidential election in the USA: “We’ll get rid of him!”

The presidential election has also been running in New York since Saturday. On the first day, there are mainly people who reject Trump from the bottom of their hearts.

Queuing to vote: Susan McHenry, Jona Inniss, Angela Howard (from left to right) Photo: taz / Dorothea Hahn

NEW YORK taz | Jona Inniss, Angela Howard and Susan McHenry waited four years for this opportunity. After two hours in the queue, the entrance to the Brooklyn Museum with the polling station is now in sight and their anticipation is growing. “We can do it”, exults Jona Inniss, “we will vote him out”.

At 19, she is the youngest of the three women. When Donald Trump took office, she was still in school. She had since demonstrated against his policies. But this is their first opportunity to give their opinion at the ballot box. She has a sticker that says “No Malarkey” – no nonsense. The Irish-American slang word is part of Joe Biden’s repertoire. He’s also used it on his two tumultuous televised debates with Trump.

It is the first day of pre-voting in the New York state presidential election. The early voting, which in New York begins ten days before the actual election date, is intended to straighten out the crush in the polling stations on November 3rd and offers an additional alternative to postal voting.

In particular, “risk groups” were expected to be early voters, people for whom infection with the virus could be life-threatening. But this Saturday, in the largest city in the country, the majority of young people flock to the 88 polling stations across New York. Among them are particularly many “POC” – brown and black Americans.

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“Vote” – vote! – stands on masks of those waiting. You speak of “civic duty”, of “the power of the people” and of “change”. Some sit on camping chairs that they push a few steps closer to the polling station every few minutes. Everyone wears masks (mandatory at the polling station) and everyone tries to keep the six-foot safe distance.

Halfway down the line, a group offers free drinks and snacks. The city’s elected ombudsman, Jumaane Williams, praises early voting as a guarantee that the vote “gets into the system and is counted on election day”.

Postal voting is riskier. First, the Post is understaffed. Second, Trump is waging a campaign against postal voting that he claims is an invitation to vote fraud. Third, most states count absentee votes after all other votes. In many places this will mean that the results of the postal vote will only be known days after the vote on November 3rd.

The half-kilometer line in front of the Brooklyn Museum is a demonstration against Trump. “Black Lives Matter” is written on T-shirts. Some also have a picture of Biden’s vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. New Yorkers: Inside knew the real estate speculator Trump, his towers, his racism and his vanity long before he was elected to the White House. But never were they so motivated against him.

Many are unemployed on Broadway

In the past few years, Ariel Samara has often feared that Trump could win again. That changed with the first television debate, in which he spent an hour and a half in front of millions of television viewers: bullied, insulted and twisted the truth. Since then, she has been “hopeful” that Biden will win.

Jill and Ira Mont are stagehands from Broadway. You are among the more than 30 million people in the United States who lost their jobs in the pandemic. You have been unemployed for months. Since the end of July they have also lost state aid for unemployment benefits. Because Trump failed in the virus crisis, they are confident that Biden and Harris will make it. The Monts even believe that the Democrats can win back a majority in the Senate.

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A polling officer comes to the back of the line at the Brooklyn Museum. He invites the oldest people waiting to come to the front with him, and he informs the others that only those who reach the entrance by 4 p.m. can vote on that day. “Come back another day,” he advises. But nobody goes. And in the end everyone can cast their vote.

There are similar scenes this Saturday in all five New York boroughs. The election workers were prepared for the rush. But nobody expected well over 90,000 early voters in New York City on the first day. A great many of them stood in line for four or five hours.

The death of George Floyd shook them

Nationwide, over 57 million people in the US had already voted by Sunday. If this trend continues through November 3rd, this presidential election will see its highest turnout in more than a century.

First-time voter Jona Inniss has been politically active since 2016, when the elders presented Trump. But this year the commitment of the African American has intensified. One reason for this was the death of George Floyd under a cop’s knee in Minneapolis. Another the electoral suppression across the Republican-controlled southern states. In the queue in which she is standing in line with her mother, Angela Howard, and has deepened the conversation with Susan McHenry, she assures: “We will get rid of him”.


Expert on Islamist violence: “Prevention is possible”

A Syrian Islamist is said to have stabbed a man in Dresden. Islamic scholar Michael Kiefer speaks about possible backgrounds.

The scene of the crime less than three weeks after the crime: memory of a victim of Islamist hatred Photo: Sebastian Kahnert / dpa

taz: Mr Kiefer, a 20-year-old Syrian who has just been released from prison, is said to have stabbed a tourist in Dresden on October 4th and injured his companion. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office assumes an Islamist terrorist attack. What else do you know about the case?

Michael Kiefer: We know that the alleged perpetrator came to Germany from Syria in 2015. In 2017 he turned to IS, and in 2018 he was convicted of supporting a terrorist group. It is interesting that he had to serve his sentence until the last day. This is unusual for juvenile prisoners and indicates that rehabilitation was not going well in prison. After his release, he was placed under management supervision …

… that means?

… for example that he has to report regularly or is not allowed to be in certain places.

That was obviously not enough. He is said to have offered himself as an assassin, instructions for suicide bombings were on his cell phone. What would the alternative to management supervision have been?

There is only preventive detention for young people who have been sentenced to long-term imprisonment. An observation would have been possible, but this is labor-intensive and has to be approved by a judge. I warn against remotely and without knowing details of the risk analysis, attesting errors to the police and the authorities.

What type of perpetrator are we dealing with?

The alleged perpetrator from Dresden is not a recognized asylum seeker, he has a tolerance status. There are three acts of refugees with no prospect of staying or with difficult prospects in life that are reminiscent of this case. In 2018 there was a knife attack in Hamburg by a young refugee who lived in a refugee home and had psychological problems. He stabbed passers-by at random.

There was a similar case in Cologne in 2018. In 2020 an Iraqi seriously injured motorcyclists with his car in Berlin. In the case of the perpetrators, despite all provisionality, we are dealing with unstable personalities who live in poorly organized circumstances and who received insufficient psychosocial support. The milieu, especially young refugees, is an interesting field of recruitment for Islamist groups.

You dealt with chat logs from Islamists. With what knowledge?

born 1961, is an Islamic and political scientist. At the University of Osnabrück, he deals with the phenomena of radicalization.

When young people become radicalized, critical life events such as the death of relatives or failure at school almost always play a role. The path to Islamism is often an escape from everyday life that is perceived as frustrating. How far radicalization goes often depends on whether the young people still have close contact with their family. If not, radicalization is more likely. There are a number of factors.

Can radicalization among refugees be prevented?

Prevention is possible. The uncertainty of whether one can stay and the impossibility of getting a vocational training increase the susceptibility to radicalization. But we know from crime prevention that it can always fail.

So there is no catalog of measures that effectively limits and lowers the risk of violent radicalization?

The Israeli psychologist Haim Omar developed the pioneering concept of “watchful concern”. This can include social work monitoring, but also police measures. But here too: be careful with generalizations. There are also spontaneous acts of violence that can hardly be foreseen.

Are the prevention measures in Germany sufficient?

It has to be said that, compared to France, Germany has invested a lot of money, for example for the federal program “Live Democracy”. How effective this is cannot be said exactly because there is little research on it.

It is noticeable that the perpetrators in Dresden, Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg are apparently individual perpetrators.

One has to distinguish this from organized acts like the massacre in Bataclan in Paris in 2015 or attacks by al-Qaida. We do not yet know whether the crime in Dresden was planned or spontaneous.

Are there any similarities to right-wing extremist offenders like in Hanau and Halle?

Yes, because they are radicalized individual perpetrators. Otherwise not. Halle and Hanau were deeds planned for the long term; the victims were specifically selected. This is usually not the case with knife attacks, which often arise from everyday situations.


Poverty researchers on the consequences of Corona: cardinal problem of wealth distribution

Corona works like a burning glass, says poverty researcher Christoph Butterwegge. The real virus of inequality is neoliberalism.

A corona test station on the A8 from Munich to Stuttgart Photo: Daniel Biskup / laif

taz: Mr. Butterwegge, the second corona wave is sweeping across the Federal Republic. What social impact will that have?

Christoph Butterwegge: That of course depends on how hard it hits us. Much will depend on whether social life has to be shut down again. In any case, experience with the first wave shows that socio-economic inequality will continue to grow.

What are you up to?

That inequality worsened during the lockdown and economic slump is evident on three levels. First of all, there is the health level with the infection itself: Before the virus, all people are ostensibly the same, but there is a causal connection between income and immune deficiency. The poor are exposed to a higher risk of infection because their working conditions are generally poorer and their living conditions are more hygienic. In addition, they often suffer from social pre-existing illnesses, which increases the risk of getting seriously ill with Covid-19. In addition, there is the psychological stress: Those who have a large apartment survive a quarantine much more relaxed than a family whose members do not have their own rooms.

born 1951, has been researching economic, social and political inequality in Germany for decades. The political scientist taught as a professor at the University of Cologne until 2016. A member of the SPD from 1970 to 1975 and from 1987 to 2005, he ran for the office of Federal President in 2017 as a non-party member at the suggestion of the Left Party. His latest book “Inequality in Class Society” has just been published by PapyRossa Verlag.

And the second level?

That is the economic one. Radical infection control measures are necessary, but leave behind economic collateral damage that does not affect all strata of the population equally. Rather, the corona crisis has made some people richer and many poorer. There is a social polarization between those who suffer severe financial losses due to lost earnings, business termination, short-time working or job loss, and those who have a company or a job that the recession cannot harm. Some industries such as online trading, logistics companies and delivery services even increased their profits during the crisis.

The lockdown phase in the spring made it clear that a large proportion of the people living in Germany are barely able to make ends meet financially if their regular income is lost for a few weeks. Right down to the middle class, there is simply a lack of reserves. Ultimately, it is not your income that counts, but your wealth. It is particularly unevenly distributed in this country and is concentrated in 45 hyper-rich families who own more than the poorer half of the population – over 40 million people. Around a third of the population has no wealth worth mentioning and is therefore only one resignation, a serious illness or a new lockdown away from poverty.

But haven’t the federal and state governments cushioned a lot with their multi-billion dollar aid programs?

This brings us to the third level. I am far from condemning the state aid packages, rescue packages and subsidy measures in their entirety. Much of it was needed. But their distribution policy imbalance is striking and worthy of criticism. There is a clear overweight in favor of the large companies, which are supported even when that is unnecessary.

Can you give us a specific example?

Take BMW as an example. I am a supporter of short-time work benefits because it can prevent mass layoffs. But I think it’s a scandal when the Federal Employment Agency takes over a large part of BMW’s wage costs by paying short-time work benefits, even though there was enough money to pay shareholders a whopping dividend of 1.64 billion euros. The richest siblings in our country, Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, took in more than 750 million euros.

Denmark and France make bridging aid subject to the condition that a company does not distribute profits. I would like that for Germany too. On the other hand, those most in need were given far too little attention by the relief efforts. The willingness of the state to help varies depending on the social status.

However, Parliament has also passed two “social protection packages”.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Wuppertal: People stand in a long queue in front of the entrance to a new Corona Walk-In test center in a parking lot.

Queue instead of Porsche in the drive-in: Corona test station in Wuppertal Photo: Caroline Seidel / dpa

They were also urgently needed. People who, for example, fell into Hartz IV as self-employed persons and small businesses were considered. The job centers grant you limited access until the end of the year without having to examine your assets, the size of the apartment or the rent. But that does not go far enough. A less bureaucratic approach should apply to every applicant, and in the long run. I consider it extremely problematic that the groups of people hardest hit by the pandemic have only been given marginal consideration. Homeless and homeless, refugees, migrants without a secure residence status, people with disabilities, people in need of care, addicts, prostitutes, unemployed, low-income women, low-income pensioners and transfer benefit recipients are hardly among the winning groups.

In your opinion, how exactly should they have been helped?

Let’s just take single parents and families in the Hartz IV relationship: They had the biggest problems because schools and daycare centers were closed and the free lunch that poor children there now get was no longer available. The state could and should have helped immediately and quickly. Why wasn’t they granted a premium of 100 euros per month for food, protective masks and disinfectants in the spring?

In the meantime there has been a child bonus of 300 euros per child, which is not counted towards unemployment benefit II or social benefit.

That helped those affected, no question about it. However, the one-off payment by the federal government in two autumn installments comes very late. In addition, of course, it does not replace permanent support. It seems to me more like a trade in indulgences with which the government frees itself from the actual obligation to provide continuous aid. It is also questionable that the parents from the middle and upper classes also receive the child bonus and only have to pay it back with the tax return.

But don’t you have to acknowledge that Germany has come through the crisis quite well so far?

Compared to other countries where there are many more Covid-19 deaths to complain about, the Federal Republic has so far got through the pandemic relatively well. But this does not change the fact that the already considerable inequality in Germany continued to grow during the exceptional pandemic situation and the gap between rich and poor widened even more.

Is Corona an inequality virus for you?

No, the real inequality virus is neoliberalism. Corona only acts as a catalyst. In the pandemic, inequality has worsened due to capitalist ownership and policies that idolize the “business location”, serve the interests of financial investors and therefore have a socially polarizing rather than equalizing effect. The cardinal problem of our society is the existing distributional imbalance.

Can you be more specific?

According to the criteria of the European Union, 13.3 million people in Germany are poor or at least at risk of poverty today – a record figure. You have less than 60 percent of the median income available – that’s 1,074 euros a month for a single person. At the same time, according to a recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research, 67 percent of total net assets are now in the top tenth, 35 percent are concentrated in the richest percent of the population and the richest per mille still comes to 20 percent.

This means that even among the rich themselves, most of the wealth accumulates in the hyper-rich. The richest man in Germany, Dieter Schwarz, owner of Lidl and Kaufland, already owned 41.5 billion euros in private assets before the pandemic. That has now increased by another 300 million euros.

As a consequence not only of the current corona crisis, you demand in your new book that “the capitalist economic and social system” must be fundamentally changed ”. That sounds quite a long way from social reality.

You don’t have to be a Marxist to realize that Germany is a class society with growing socio-economic inequality, the main reason being the persistent conflict of interests between capital and labor. If you want to fight poverty effectively, you have to touch private wealth. The pandemic state of emergency has shown many people the value of solidarity again. They notice that the fixation on the market and the competition is of little use in such a situation. This also includes the realization that further economization, financialization and privatization, especially of the health care system, would be a mistake.

Skepticism about the promises of neoliberalism is the basic requirement for critical social awareness. This is just as positive as the knowledge which professional activities are “systemically relevant” – but are not paid accordingly well. Whether it is about a decent collectively agreed wage, an increase in the minimum wage to at least 12 euros, the introduction of solidarity-based citizens’ insurance or a correction of course in tax policy – there is still a lot to be done if the gap between rich and poor does not widen further should.

You are considered the best-known poverty researcher in Germany. You have been analyzing the existing misery for decades. Didn’t that make you a deeply frustrated person?

No, not at all. Because I am concerned with poverty, its causes and manifestations, but also with enormous wealth. The critical analysis of social developments can be discouraging. Nevertheless, my will is unbroken to change the existing conditions in the direction of more social justice. I will not let myself be dissuaded from this by some setbacks and right-wing tendencies.


Occupation of the Dannenröder forest: “I saw the climate crisis”

Carola Rackete became known as a sea rescue worker. Now she supports the occupiers in the Dannenröder forest against the construction of the A49.

The forest occupation is also the example of a different social model, says Carola Rackete Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

taz: Ms. Rackete, did you sleep in a tree house last night?

Carola Rackete: No, I haven’t spent a night in the tree house in the Dannenröder forest. I support the occupiers’ media work and sleep in the media camp because there is hardly any cell phone reception in the forest.

How does a day in the occupied forest go?

Tree houses and barricades are being built, but of course there is also reproductive work to be done. The tree houses are organized as small villages, each village holds plenary sessions at least once a day to discuss who cooks, who takes care of the toilets, who builds what. There are also events on social issues such as feminism, consumption or decision-making processes in groups. As in the Hambi, such an occupation is also the example of a different social model.

When one speaks of the Dannenröder forest, the smaller Herrenwald and Maulbacher forest are usually meant, where clearing has been taking place since October 1st.

I agree. In addition to the occupation in the forest, there are several registered vigils in the three forests, everyone can go there and there are the tent camps. The biggest one is right in Dannenrod, there were around 200 people there last week. But many also camp in the forest.

Why are people doing this?

They are there for different reasons. Some want to specifically protect this old, healthy mixed forest. Others, including myself, are concerned with the traffic turnaround.

But you still have to occupy a lot of forests.

We don’t just want to stop this one project. The current federal traffic route plan contains several hundred planned motorways. It has to be completely revised. Every infrastructure project, regardless of whether it is at the federal, state or municipal level, must be checked to see whether it fits together with climate protection and species protection.

A huge effort.

But we have just signed the international agreements. In addition, the plan is only renewed every ten years, the current one has been in place since 2016. But the situation has now changed and the climate crisis is getting worse. Instead of investing in car traffic, investments must be made in the rail network. The Danni symbolizes this.

32, comes from Kiel and is a conservation ecologist, activist and book author. She became known for her work as the captain of the rescue ship “Sea Watch 3”: In the summer of 2019, after more than two weeks with 53 rescued persons on board, despite a ban on Lampedusa. That earned her three days of pre-trial detention and an investigation into aiding and abetting illegal immigration. It is still unclear whether there will be a trial, the investigations are still ongoing.

Is there anything more to be won in the Dannenröder forest?

In any case. We want to open a discussion about the traffic turnaround. Annalena Baerbock and Anton Hofreiter have called for a moratorium on the construction of the A49 and the entire traffic route plan. The Greens are rightly afraid that what is happening in Hessen will harm them.

But the A49 can no longer be prevented, right?

Well, even if the route has been cleared, there is still no motorway. It is to be built next September, for the federal election. I think the construction site will be massively blocked. It will be the scene for the traffic turnaround.

Why were lawsuits against the project unsuccessful, although a fauna-flora-habitat protection area (FFH) is to be cleared and drinking water protection areas are to be built?

The prerequisite for the destruction of part of an FFH protected area is that there is an overriding public interest in the project. But the planning for the A49 is 40 years old. I doubt that there is still an overriding public interest in such a damaging infrastructure project today. Unfortunately, neither the Federal Administrative Court nor the European Court of Justice would like to examine this. It is not regulated who is responsible for the exam.

Several small towns are interested in relieving the busy main road that goes through the region.

But the planned motorway bridge leads through the Gleental, a drinking water protection area that supplies 500,000 people. The Federal Administrative Court has admitted that this violates the EU Water Framework Directive. If you applied for the project again today, it would not be approved.

The Hessian Greens present the fight as lost. An excuse?

You could at least campaign against the project in several places, for example with an opinion on the drinking water protection area, but they didn’t do that. The clearance and clearing are also the responsibility of the state. The climate movement has asked the Hessian Greens to break the coalition.

Then the CDU realizes the project with another coalition partner.

It’s about the credibility of the Greens. Are they really committed to nature conservation and defend their basic values, or are they just spreading empty phrases? And: Can they represent what today’s environmental movement expects?

What do you think?

That at the moment there is no party that has a program that demands and can implement the change we need. But I know that there are people among the Greens who are open to it. In other words, to speak openly about how the economy can no longer be based solely on gross domestic product, but on indicators of satisfied societies. These include access to the health system, education, social justice and clean air. Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand already do that.

You are known as the captain of the “Sea-Watch” on the Mediterranean. What got you into the forest?

For me it’s not a change of subject, it’s connected. I have never been a permanent member of Sea Watch, but I enjoy helping out with human rights campaigns. But there are currently a lot of people who are involved in this area, there is no shortage of activists.

Saving trees is probably more relaxing than saving lives in the Mediterranean.

We shouldn’t play social problems off against each other, but rather have to look: How do you get more people to get involved? I am a conservation ecologist. I have been to Antarctica eight times since 2011, including when the Argentine research station Esperanza measured 18 degrees Celsius in February, although it should be around zero. The climate crisis is real to me, I’ve seen it. In addition, I was always in contact with scientists who told me back in 2011: “The situation is dramatic, we have been reporting it for 20 or 30 years.”

What did you conclude for yourself from these experiences?

The fact that facts and reports alone do not help – it is political will that counts. Therefore one has to deal with social movements. You have to see how they created changes in the past and how we can do it. I also don’t sit in the rainy forest because I enjoy it so much. But nothing will change politically without civil society putting pressure on it.


Felix Klein one year after the attack in Halle: “Fears are back”

One year after the attack in Halle, the anti-Semitism officer Felix Klein worries about the Jewish community – and criticizes Saxony-Anhalt’s interior minister.

This is where the assassin failed a year ago: the door to the synagogue in Halle Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / dpa

taz: Mr. Klein, A year ago a right-wing extremist attacked the synagogue in Halle and killed two people. Do you remember how you found out about it back then?

Felix Klein: Yes, my wife and I were on the way from the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial back to Berlin. It was a shock to me as it was to everyone. We had just launched important structures against anti-Semitism, a federal-state commission, the Rias reporting system. And then that. I felt very powerless.

The perpetrator wanted to cause a massacre. Only the synagogue door prevented him from doing so. Would you have thought such an act possible?

I thought that an attack was possible. Especially when you saw how radical the tone was on the Internet. But I did not expect such a hateful, inhuman act in this dimension.

The synagogue was not protected by the police at the time. An unforgivable mistake?

It would have been unforgivable if it had happened willfully. But apparently the police didn’t even know that Yom Kippur was being celebrated there and that there was an increased need for security.

But that’s also a problem.

the lawyer and diplomat is the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish life and the fight against anti-Semitism.

Yes of course. That was a negligence that is unacceptable. And this anti-Semitic attack, which ultimately cost the lives of two non-Jews, was also a turning point. He shook up the security authorities. Today the community in Halle is permanently guarded. And the police have evolved, the handling of religious holidays has improved.

A few days ago, however, a man attacked a believer in front of a synagogue in Hamburg, seriously injuring him. How safe do Jews still live in Germany?

Hamburg has shown that this time protective measures took effect. The police had the holiday on their radar there. And the police property guards immediately arrested the attacker and prevented further violence.

But not the attack on the young believer.

There can be no absolute protection. But of course the attack should be an occasion to re-examine the security measures in front of Jewish institutions.

So too little has happened since the attack in Halle?

In my opinion the opposite is the case. The federal government and the states are doing their utmost here. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has just made available 22 million euros for structural protection measures, and the federal states have also taken money into their hands again. In addition, the federal government has launched a comprehensive package of measures, such as the obligation to report online hate postings to the BKA, which I expect a lot from in the fight against anti-Semitism. Because the clientele backs away when they receive counter pressure and the police are at the door. And we saw in Halle that the root of the threat was radicalization on the Internet.

Is that enough? After the Hamburg attack, the Central Council of Jews once again called for more protection for religious institutions and a resolute social commitment against anti-Semitism.

There are certainly further opportunities for improvement. For example, I would like the police nationwide to know the Jewish calendar and on which occasions special protection is necessary. And it is also correct that the state cannot resolve the matter alone. This requires a courageous civil society that counteracts when anti-Semitism is expressed. That is the most important thing. I think the best protection would be if Jewish life were perceived much more as something that is taken for granted, as part of German diversity. We have to do more for that.

After the attack in Halle and the attack in Hambrug, the situation is different: the Jewish community feels seriously threatened.

Yes, that’s how I perceive it, she is very worried. And that is also very understandable. After politics reacted to Halle, my impression was that the community had settled down somewhat. But now the fears are back. We have to take that very seriously.

Isn’t that an indictment of poverty, especially for Germany with its history?

These concerns must alarm us, absolutely. The very fact that Jewish families are discussing whether they can continue to live in Germany is more than an alarm signal.

As the anti-Semitism commissioner, you report to the federal government. Don’t you have to put more pressure on in view of this?

We are making a significant effort. The Chancellor herself is also very committed. Everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation.

But many of those affected say: we don’t want more encouragement, we want to see action.

It has already existed. Many of the measures decided must now be implemented first. Nevertheless, there will be another catalog of measures shortly, from the cabinet committee to combat right-wing extremism.

Last year the number of anti-Semitic crimes rose by 13 percent to a good 2,000 crimes. What’s your explanation for that?

The increase is mainly due to the brutality on the Internet and the local incitement to hatred and Holocaust denial. But there is also a positive explanation: those affected report these incidents more strongly. This is a good development and something that I also encourage. Making hatred visible is the first step in combating it.

Why does such hatred always end up in anti-Semitic attacks?

That does not surprise me. Anti-Semitism is so practiced in our culture that it is used again and again, especially in times of uncertainty. Jews were blamed for the plague as far back as the Middle Ages; today this is repeated with the corona virus. This is really fatal.

Even Saxony-Anhalt’s Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (CDU) has just promoted anti-Semitism by referring to the times of police officers in front of Jewish buildings that were missing elsewhere.

To portray Jews as privileged people, for whom action would be taken at the expense of the general public, actually fuels anti-Semitism. It is not possible that groups are played off against each other. Unfortunately, Jewish communities need increased security, but that’s not because of the Jews, but because of the threats against them. And the state has a duty to ensure that they can practice their religion without restriction. I think he has to bear 100 percent of the security costs for this. Because this is a fundamental right.

Do you think anti-Semitism can one day be defeated?

It can at least be pushed back so far that the quality of life can be significantly improved. The whole of society benefits from this, not just the Jews. The vast majority in Germany is democratic and vigilant. That gives me hope.


House project Liebig 34 in Berlin: applause for the evacuated

The radical left house project Liebig 34 has been cleared, residents waving as they leave. There were scuffles and arson in the area.

October 9, 2020: Demonstrators in front of Liebig 34 on the day of the eviction Photo: dpa / Fabian Sommer

BERLIN taz | The autonomous Liebig 34 house project was cleared 24 hours after the red zone was set up in the northern district of Berlin’s Friedrichshain district. Police officers first set up scaffolding in front of the house, from which a window was broken at around 7:20 a.m. Steel bars with which it was barred were flexed open. Inside, they apparently encountered other obstacles.

The police later drove up a cart. The first residents were brought out of the house through the window on the first floor. Only after two hours were the police ready to lead people out through the house entrance. Apparently the stairwell had been heavily barricaded. The use of flex devices could be heard from inside the house for hours. Axes were also used. According to the police, among other things, laid out beams had to be cleared away. Remnants of the wall and concrete were also piled up.

By 10 a.m., around 20 people were led out of the anarcha-queer-feminist house project. The eviction was apparently largely peaceful. Some of the evacuated waved to the supporters in the opposite houses as they left. A person in a rainbow-colored knitted hat proudly allowed himself to be led away by two officers. Others were taken away with their arms turned on their backs or carried up the entire Liebiegstrasse. Local residents and demonstrators accompanied them with applause.

Out of the house was still tweeted after the eviction began, “It’s not over yet. The house is still full of resistance “. The police A little later reported that she had access to the house and was now walking floor by floor. According to the police, the deportees were checked but not arrested. It is still unclear whether investigations into trespassing will be initiated.

The bailiff announced that he would be at 7 a.m. Up to 5,000 officials, including 19 hundreds from other federal states, were ready to go. It was probably the most complex and delicate evacuation in Berlin since 2011, when Liebigstrasse 14 opposite was cleared.

Parallel to the evacuation, there was a rally with several hundred participants within sight of the house project to confrontations with the police. When a protester lying on the ground was kicked by the police, a cluster formed around the officers. The police used heavy blows and pepper spray against the demonstrators; then bottles and stones flew.

A few hundred meters further on Proskauer Strasse, there were also clashes between demonstrators and the police. The officials from Bavaria deployed here initially disagreed themselves on how brutally they should proceed, and discussed first – before they then but people were pushing towards Frankfurter Allee. It happened there further arguments. From the relatively haphazardly walking around, a loose collection has formed. Policeman: inside they surrounded also with the help of dogs. The people shouted: “Where were you in Hanau?”

In the course of the morning there was noticeable frustration among the eviction opponents. Again and again they were pushed back by the police for no apparent reason. The officers were numerically far superior, helmeted troops repeatedly attacked individuals from the crowd of demonstrators. For a short time, just under a dozen managed to block the intersection at Frankfurter Tor, but it did not take long before the police had the situation under control.

Meanwhile, residents from a house across from the Liebig 34 were playing a classic by Ton Steine ​​Scherben. “The dream is over. But I will give everything to make it a reality, ”could be heard while some police officers had taken off their helmets on the street. The neighbors step up and play “police officers” from extra wide. “She will be with you day and night”. At least the music program is right that day.

Protests since the early morning

There had been rallies against the eviction since the early morning. Around 5 a.m., a few hundred people had gathered on Rigaer Strasse within sight of the Liebig 34. A woman’s voice from the house project explained via megaphone: “We are not the problem. The problem is called capitalism. ”When the police went into the crowd and took two people out, the first bottles flew. Shortly afterwards the situation calmed down again.

Further east in the Rigaer fireworks rose into the sky, while in the hermetically sealed area in front of Liebig 34 only police could be seen – and the constant beating of pots from residents could be heard. Overall, according to the taz’s assessment, the protest is relatively small; hardly more than 1,000 people were out in the morning.

A bicycle demonstration with around 70 people also cycled through the neighborhood, the police followed. On Frankfurter Allee, the cyclists split up: inside. There was commotion, some people fell off their bikes. About twelve people were searched and detained by police officers, the others continued on their bikes.

In the southern part of Friedrichshain, around 6 a.m., small groups of masked people marched through the neighborhood, the police’s blue light was omnipresent. Burned on Wühlischstrasse a Mercedes and several garbage cans. Police officers secured the spot, but could only watch the flames spread. A resident with an empty fire extinguisher stood by, aghast, and asked: “Don’t they even want to turn that off?” Finally the fire brigade arrived and put out the fire. Meanwhile, in several places around the house smaller barricades erected.

The police reported from several fires in the urban area. For deletion is the Use of water cannons approved.

a man with a mohawk shows his middle finger behind a police chain

Pointing the finger in the early morning: Protester on Rigaer Strasse on Friday behind the police chain Photo: Axel Schmidt / Reuters

The police were still there that morning came to the conclusion: “At first it doesn’t seem as if you want to hand over the object willingly.” A helicopter circled briefly over the neighborhood. The house itself had been lit by spotlights all night. Before that, the police had a clearing armor, an excavator and a cart.

Canan Bayram, the green member of the Bundestag for the constituency of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, had the impression after a first tour in the morning that the neighborhood was under siege. “I am amazed that such a police operation takes place under Covid-19 conditions,” Bayram told the taz. The Robert Koch Institute reported more than 4,500 newly infected nationwide in the morning, a new record. Bayram fears that as a result of this effort, many voters will lose confidence that something will fundamentally change under a red-red-green Senate in Berlin.

Liebigstrasse and part of Rigaer Strasse had already been open since Thursday so that the police could at least penetrate the house from the outside undisturbed has been declared a prohibited zonethat only residents are allowed to pass. Schools and daycare centers in the neighborhood will be closed on Friday. The mood in the Kiez had been spooky all Thursday: Wannen patrols were in deserted streets, police officers were posted on the roofs of the surrounding houses and the Liebig 34 itself. They partially stretched NATO wire there. In the meantime, the noises of cordless screwdrivers and hammers boomed from the colorful old Liebig 34 building.

Especially in the house project opposite at Liebigstrasse 15, the officials also went in and out on Friday morning to get to the roof. The irritated residents of the project, which belongs to a cooperative, had the impression that their attic had been converted into a command center.

No chance in court

In the legal struggle for the eviction, the residents of Liebig 34 suffered another defeat on Thursday. The Chamber Court rejected the application to suspend the enforcement of the eviction order for the time being.

After a ten-year lease had expired at the end of 2018, the house owner, the Berlin real estate speculator Gijora Padovicz, sued for eviction and was judged by the regional court at the end of August. According to Liebig 34 and its lawyers, the Raduga eV association, which was condemned to surrender, is no longer in possession of the rooms, but rather the former sub-tenant association Mittendrin eV – but no eviction title was issued against them.

When the eviction was already in progress and the police tried to break into the house, Lukas Theune, lawyer for the Mittendrin eV association, which currently owns the premises, was still waiting at the police cordon in northern Liebigstrasse. For 20 minutes they have been checking whether he can go in, Theune told the taz. Acting on the bailiff who has issued an eviction title against the Raduga e. V. has become impossible.

The Liebig 34 is considered a symbol in left-wing, anarchist and queer feminist circles and has mobilized the scene far beyond Berlin. It is criticized that a unique shelter will be omitted, that around 40 residents will be put on the street in the middle of the pandemic and that the gentrification of the neighborhood will proceed even faster without the resisting project. Left Berlin had declared its solidarity with the project, including the Greens in the district. A political solution, however, was not attempted to force and failed due to the unwillingness of the owner.

Collaboration: Jonas Wahmkow, Christina Gutsmiedl.


TV debate Pence vs. Harris: “Mr. Vice President, I speak!”

There can be no question of substance. But the duel between the US runners-up was at least civilized. The star of the evening was at the end: a fly.

This time with discs between the candidates: Harris and Pence in the TV duel on Wednesday Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON taz | US Vice President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris fought a civilized exchange of blows on Wednesday evening, which once again highlighted the political differences between the two parties. The two vice-presidential candidates left neither a good hair on each other nor on the other top candidate.

In contrast to the first TV debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden last week, Pence and Harris managed not to turn the stage into a circus with innumerable heckling and personal attacks.

Nevertheless, there can be no talk of a discussion with much substance. Both candidates used the 90 minutes to skillfully bring their agenda items into play. Presenter Susan Page who works as a journalist for the national daily newspaper USA Today is active, both Pence and Harris had to admonish again and again, because neither was so strict about observing the time rules.

The television debates between the candidates for the vice presidency usually play a negligible role in the US election campaign. But the high age of the two top candidates – President Donald Trump is 74, his Democratic challenger Joe Biden is 77 – and the President’s corona infection have given the duel a special meaning this year.

Harris attackiert Trumps Coronapolitik

Harris, who, along with Biden, is the Democrats’ presidential ticket this year, brought out heavy artillery right at the start of the debate. She described the actions of the Trump administration in the fight against the corona crisis as the “greatest failure of a president and his administration in the history of our country”.

She referred to the more than 210,000 deaths in the country and the increasing numbers of infections in several US states. As the incumbent Vice President, Pence could of course not let this criticism sit on him.

When Harris then addressed the American journalist Bob Woodward’s disclosure book, which made it known that Trump knew about the danger of the virus as early as the spring, but downplayed it to avoid panic among the population, Pence tried to interrupt his opponent Fall: “Mr. Vice President, I speak – I speak,” Harris replied clearly.

His subsequent argument that the death toll could have been more than two million without rapid government intervention was also less than convincing. Harris also criticizes the Trump administration for its stance on climate change. According to the senator, she doesn’t believe in “scientific evidence.” Pence disagreed with Harris. He admitted that the climate was changing, but he did not want to answer whether human influences were responsible for it.

The former governor of the US state Indiana also evaded the question of the role model function of the government. Moderator Page wanted to know from Pence how the American people should have confidence in the guidelines and recommendations of experts if not even their own government would adhere to them.

As an example, she cited an event in the White House more than ten days ago. There was no mask requirement there, distance regulations were not adhered to and as it later turned out, many of those present at this event are said to have been infected with the virus.

Racism is hardly an issue

Harris and Pence’s personalities were not fully reflected in the debate. Both were authoritarian, eloquent and also polite here and there. Pence even congratulated his rival on the historic nomination for vice presidential nomination. Harris, 55, is not only the first black woman, but also the first woman of Southeast Asian descent to be nominated for vice presidency by one of the two major US political parties.

Despite the ongoing protests in the US, the issue of racism was only briefly mentioned. Both candidates repeated their horror at the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. However, Pence does not believe in systematic racism among police forces and relies on the judicial system. Harris stated that if she won the election, she and Biden would take immediate action on police and prison reform.

Pence had his strongest moments when he tried to contradict Harris. For example, he said that if Biden and Harris won the election, they would ban fracking. As a presidential candidate, Harris had campaigned for such a ban. On Tuesday evening, she spoke out clearly against it.

Star of the evening? A fly

Pence also scored points with the so-called Green New Deal, a legislative package that advocates a transformation of the country – away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies. Harris was one of the first female senators to support the bill. But for many Americans the Green New Deal goes too far in its plan and is therefore a political problem for the Democrats.

On other important issues, such as the future of health insurance and taxes, both remained extremely vague. One of the biggest upsets on social networks was a fly that made itself comfortable on the Vice President’s head during the debate. Only shortly after the debate was it possible to order fly swatters with the inscription “Truth Before Flies” on Biden’s homepage for 10 US dollars each.

The fact that in the end a fly is the star of the evening underlines once again that the debate lacks substance.


Extremists in security authorities: Seehofer’s “low” number of cases

A situation report counts 380 right-wing extremist incidents in the security authorities, 1,064 in the Bundeswehr. A structural problem? No, says Seehofer.

See few problems: Thomas Haldenwang and Horst Seehofer at the press conference on October 6th Photo: Wolfgang Kumm / dpa

BERLIN taz | Horst Seehofer sounds almost relieved. “We have no structural problem in the security authorities,” said the Federal Interior Minister on Tuesday in Berlin. 99 percent of civil servants, and thus the “very, very vast majority”, are “firmly on the ground of the Basic Law”. The authorities had his “absolute confidence”, they were doing “an excellent job”.

What Seehofer presented on that day is not a figurehead for the officers, on the contrary. The minister presented the situation report “Right-wing extremists in the security authorities”, written by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, almost 100 pages thick and a premiere. The result: 319 suspected cases in the police forces and offices for the protection of the constitution in the federal states, plus 58 cases in the federal authorities, such as the federal police or the BKA. And 1,064 suspected cases in the Bundeswehr.

In fact, reports on right-wing extremist incidents in the security authorities have not been torn off recently. Corresponding chat groups were opened with the police in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin, KSK soldiers were suspended because of Hitler salutes, and right-wing constitutional protection officials who were supposed to be observing neo-Nazis were reported. Seehofer clearly criticizes these cases, referring to the role model function of the officers: “Every proven case is a shame.” You clarify these “without ifs or buts” and pursue them “rigorously”. Overall, however, Seehofer calls the number of cases “low”, measured against the approximately 300,000 security guards in this country.

Constitutional Protection President Thomas Haldenwang formulated more cautiously, speaking of “incidents that go beyond individual cases”. Each case is one too many. Because they are likely to shake confidence in the state. The defense of these activities is therefore “an existential protective measure” for the state.

Long lead time for the management report

Seehofer and Haldenwang also refer to the consequences that have already been drawn. The federal authorities had 23 dismissals due to right-wing extremist incidents, and 48 cases in the federal states. 70 soldiers were released from the Bundeswehr. Overall, most of the events involved right-wing extremist statements or chat messages. Only one case was uncovered in the countries in which a person also took part in right-wing extremist events. At least ten people had contact with well-known right-wing extremists or initiatives, two were even members.

The creation of Haldenwang’s situation report was tough. A year ago, after terror allegations against a prepper group, in which soldiers and police officers also participated, and after the assassination attempt on Walter Lübcke, the constitution protection set up a central office for extremists in the security authorities. This should create the report. The authorities previously did not keep any statistics in this field because the incidents were assessed as individual cases.

But the survey was bumpy, and the report had to be postponed several times: Should only completed disciplinary proceedings count – or already suspected cases? The federal states initially opted for the former and delivered so few cases that Haldenwang also demanded that open proceedings be named. The figures are now available.

Incidents from January 2017 to the end of March this year were recorded, and those that led to action, most of them disciplinary proceedings. In the case of the Federal Police, this affects 44 cases, the BKA six, the Customs four, the BND two, in Haldenwang’s own authority there is one case. The scope of the Bundeswehr is far greater: of the total of 1,064 suspected cases, 363 new cases were added last year alone. It is precisely these cases that are worrying because they affect people who handle weapons.

How big is the dark field?

In the federal states, Hessen reported the most cases with 59, followed by Berlin with 53, NRW with 45, Bavaria with 31, and Saxony 28. On the other hand, Bremen only reported one case and Saarland none at all. The numbers should therefore be treated with caution – because behind them there is probably a larger dark field slumbering. And some of them are also outdated: the 31 police officers recently suspended in North Rhine-Westphalia who were active in right-wing extremist chat groups are no longer included in the statistics.

A dark field is also given in the management report. “Its continuous and consistent illumination is a prominent task for the security authorities,” it says there. Seehofer and Haldenwang emphasize that the statistics should be updated and extended to the public service. Haldenwang is also calling for better cooperation between the authorities in the future after the bumpy initial survey.

The question of how big the dark field is now remains open. Researchers point to a corps spirit in the authorities in which colleagues often cover up or look the other way during incidents. The recently known chat groups in North Rhine-Westphalia were only discovered by chance, although some of them had existed since 2015: through investigations against an official who was accused of piercing internal matters of a journalist. None of the police officers in the chat groups, including a service group leader, had reported that pictures of Hitler or swastikas had been shared there.

Seehofer therefore turns to the officials with an appeal: “Take a look, defend our constitution, take action. Passive followers are also not allowed. ”However, the heads of the authorities collectively reject a structural problem, above all Federal Police Chief Dieter Romann. Of the 51,000 federal police officers, the allegations only concern 0.09 percent, he emphasizes. He could not recognize right-wing extremist networks, and an allegation of racism was also wrong. “The police have earned our trust.”

Further dispute over study to the police

Experts like the Green interior expert and police officer Irene Mihalic, on the other hand, consider the report to be just a beginning. The report only documents the surface, says Mihalic. You and others are therefore repeating the call for independent police officers and a scientific investigation into right-wing extremist attitudes in the police – which Seehofer again refused on Tuesday.

The minister says the topic is more universal. That is why he advocates “an in-depth investigation for society as a whole”. In addition, Seehofer calls for a whole bunch of further studies that are only marginally related to the situation report: on violence against police officers, on their everyday work or on their motives for starting a career.

But even the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter stated on Tuesday that the situation report had not refuted a structural problem in the authorities. The association also requested a separate study. Some countries are already making progress here. Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony will soon begin an anonymous survey of 3,000 police officers on risk factors that promote prejudice and extreme attitudes in their ranks.


Right-wing extremist chat group in Berlin: Scary and liberating at the same time

The more known about the right-wing extremist filth, the better. The truth is bitter, but politics can no longer avoid it.

Right structures in the police: new “individual case” now also in Berlin Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | So now Berlin also has its right-wing extremist chat group. Like the ARD magazine Monitor Reported on Thursday, 25 police officers from a Berlin police station wrote each other messages for over three years, sometimes with blatant racist agitation. The whole field of right-wing extremist clichés was apparently served: the “large population exchange” by refugees, unchecked hatred of the left, the most primitive violent fantasies against “foreigners”. To be frank: after North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and all the other police scandals of recent times, this should not surprise anyone. The “individual cases” are now so numerous that you can almost lose track of them.

On the one hand, this is deeply frightening: The nightmare in which people who visibly think and look different have always lived and in which the police are not your friends but the (armed and powerful) enemy is reality. And regularly. There is not just one police officer or two, so that one could legitimately speak of exceptions, as politics and police leaderships and unions always do. The error is “in the system”, as this case also shows. Even those who don’t think like their right-wing extremist colleagues shut up. Not even the chief of the troop, who apparently knew about it, has put an end to the hustle and bustle.

On the other hand, such revelations are also encouraging: after all, it was two Berlin police officers who stank the matter so much that they “leaked” the chat logs and Monitor willingly give information about the racist everyday life on their guard. So there are (after all) the democratically minded law enforcement officers – even if they wanted to remain anonymous for fear of the corps spirit of their colleagues.

And even if police scandals are usually not uncovered by internal whistleblowers but in the course of investigations: there is reason for hope. Because the more of the dirt that comes to light, the greater the willingness of people to speak about it – be they victims of racist police violence or witnesses.

Every scandal encourages those affected and witnesses to speak

At least that is how it is in the general debate about (everyday) racism and discrimination in society: The public awareness of the topic in recent months has encouraged more and more BPoC (Black and People of Color) to report on their experiences and no longer to put up with everything. And it encourages members of the white majority society to take a critical look at their own racisms and prejudices.

And with each new revelation about racist structures in the police, the moment inevitably draws nearer when politics and police leaders can no longer come up with excuses. The truth is ugly. But all of us – including the middle class, who has so far defended their law enforcement officers – must finally look their faces.


Yom Kippur after the assassination attempt in Halle: “There will be a next time”

Iona Berger was on Yom Kippur during the attack in the synagogue in Halle in 2019. To this day, she struggles with feelings of guilt.

Iona Berger was in the Halle synagogue at the time of the attack Photo: Rolf Peter Stoffels / image

taz: Ms. Berger, last year on Yom Kippur you were in the synagogue in Halle when a right-wing extremist assassin tried to storm the synagogue and then killed Jana L. and Kevin S. September 28th is Yom Kippur again. What does this time mean for you personally?

Iona Berger: During this time it is decided whether to be inscribed in the Book of Life, and on Yom Kippur it is then sealed. It’s about asking people to forgive you before you can ask God for forgiveness. It is traditionally a time when you reflect a lot. This year I find it very difficult to get involved in this time. I feel unprepared for Yom Kippur. The last year has been so chaotic, not just because of Halle, but for all of us. What does repentance to God mean after what has happened? How can I deal with my own guilt?

You have already said in court that you feel guilty for the victims because the attack was actually aimed at you. Has Halle become a place that you avoid?

Not at all. There was just no reason for me to go to Halle. I was there on the day of Jana’s funeral. Before that I was in the synagogue and looked around again.

Are you in Halle again for Yom Kippur this year?

No. Halle is problematic because of the Corona distance rules. But it was clear to me: I want to spend Yom Kippur with “Base Berlin” – no matter where. “Base Berlin” is the group with whom I drove from Berlin to the synagogue in Halle last year, and I want to spend this difficult day with the same people again. I will be back in Halle on October 9th, when it will be the anniversary of the attack.

What will be different about Yom Kippur this year?

Due to the distance rules, not everyone can go to the synagogue, there is simply not enough space for that. That is why “Base Berlin” has rented space in Berlin. What has also changed: In the past, “Base Berlin” never had security guards, there was no reason for them. From now on there will always be. There will also be psychological support on the day.

30, studied in England with a Masters degree in International Security. In 2019 she traveled to Yom Kippur with a young Jewish group from Berlin to Halle.

According to your statement, you noticed that there was no police in front of the synagogue in Halle the day before Yom Kippur. But “the idea that someone in Halle was shooting at the synagogue struck me as completely absurd,” you said in court. How do you rate the security of synagogues in Germany today?

There is a difference between rational knowledge and the subjective feeling of security when I go into a synagogue. Rationally, it is incredibly unlikely that anything would happen in this very synagogue. It was the first time it was attacked, and it is even more improbable that it will happen again in the synagogue I am in, of all places. On the other hand, I now always look around twice to see where the officers are, for example.

Should police presence in front of synagogues be compulsory?

Before the attack I was sometimes amused by the increased police presence, now I don’t do that anymore. I still don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, but if the police had been in front of the synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur last year, Jana and Kevin would probably still be alive. It’s not just about our own safety, but also about that of the people around us. The attack clearly showed that again.

Some co-plaintiffs expressed their lack of trust in the police in court. Do you share that?

I know that the police in Halle and the police in Berlin are not the same. The police themselves testified in court that they had never experienced a situation like this before. I think the police in Berlin are simply better prepared for such a dangerous situation and have more experience in operations involving firearms. I don’t generally think that all police officers are maliciously hired or incapable. I have a basic trust in this, although I know that there are systematic problems.

There are increasing reports of additional trauma caused by the behavior of the officers on site.

I think it is important to also criticize the police approach in Halle without accusing certain female police officers. I hope that the next attack on a synagogue or mosque or the like will go better and that the next survivors will not be additionally traumatized by the police operation. And yes, I think there will be a next time, unfortunately.