Independent control of the police: majority want complaints office

Two thirds of Germans are in favor of a complaints office to investigate allegations against police officers. So far there are only six federal states with such police officers.

Who is watching the police? Photo: Noah Wedel / imago

COLOGNE / KIEL epd | According to a WDR survey, two thirds of Germans are in favor of an independent complaints office for police offenses based on the example of Schleswig-Holstein. For 65 percent of citizens in Germany, the establishment of such an investigative authority is going in the right direction, according to the results published on Monday in Cologne. On the other hand, 30 percent of those surveyed are of the opinion that such a change is going in the wrong direction. On behalf of the WDR, the opinion research institute Infratest dimap surveyed 1,000 voters.

According to research by WDR and “Handelsblatt”, there are special complaints offices, the state police officers, only in six federal states. In Berlin, the Senate decided to appoint a police officer, but this has not yet happened. Only the complaints offices in Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg are “really independent”. You just have to report to the state parliament. The complaints office in Saxony, Thuringia and Lower Saxony, on the other hand, are either integrated into the State Chancellery or the Ministry of the Interior.

In North Rhine-Westphalia and other federal states, right-wing extremist suspected cases, allegations of racism and various cases of police violence had recently sparked discussions. In Germany, police officers investigate such cases against police officers. The public prosecutor’s office is also responsible for monitoring the police.

Experts criticize this practice and call for the establishment of an independent complaints and investigative authority that citizens can turn to. There is such an authority in Denmark, for example. Over 30 employees deal with complaints about the police there and have extensive investigative powers.

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Right chat group at the Berlin Police: swastikas and animal porn

Another right-wing extremist chat group was exposed to the police. There are said to be 26 police students. There have already been searches.

How many individual cases are there? A police student in Berlin during shooting training Photo: Britta Pedersen / dpa / picture alliance

BERLIN taz | Another right-wing extremist chat group in the Berlin police was blown up: the Berlin public prosecutor is investigating seven members of the Berlin police for inciting people and using symbols of unconstitutional organizations. The public prosecutor announced this in a press release on Wednesday afternoon. The accused are high-class students. Previously there was an internal police notice.

The police students are said to have sent one or more messages or memes with inhuman content in a 26-person chat group. According to the public prosecutor’s office, this is about messages that, in part with the use of swastikas, were directed against asylum seekers in a racist and contemptuous manner. “Others are said to have played down the genocide of the Jews in a way that is likely to disturb the public peace,” the public prosecutor said.

Another accused person is also suspected of distributing animal pornography. According to the police press office, the policemen of the higher service study at the University of Economics and Law in Friedrichsfelde.

According to a police report published around Wednesday noon, there were house searches of some members of the chat group in the morning. Smartphones have been confiscated and are now being evaluated. At the same time as the criminal investigation proceedings by the public prosecutor’s office and police state security, disciplinary proceedings had been initiated. Service law measures are already being examined.

Confiscated smartphones

Significantly, this time, prospective police officers from the senior service are apparently affected – recently, for example, the North Rhine-Westphalian Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) still claimed in a taz interview that the racism problem in the police often arises later, police officers so radicalized during their service. Before that, right-wing extremist police chat groups had become known there, as in Hessen.

A corresponding case was also known in Berlin about a week and a half ago: Whistleblowers: inside covered im ZDF-Magazine Frontal set up a chat group within the Berlin police. (taz reported) Based on the chats, three years of racist everyday life at a police station can be reconstructed, and superiors have not intervened either. According to a statement by police officers who turned to the media, in addition to the inciting chat content, there was also racial profiling. It is still unknown which police station it is.

After all, according to the police, a member of the Berlin Police Department reported that the chat group was blown up on Wednesday. Police chief Barbara Slowik said: “I am very grateful for this hint from my own ranks.” The report shows that the police oath is not just lip service. Probably also with a view to at least one undetected case, Slowik said: “Thanks to the open handling of the matter, we are now able to specifically identify those whose attitudes are not compatible with the self-image of the Berlin police.”

The second individual case in Berlin

The interior politician Benedikt Lux from the Greens said: “It is good that the chat came to the display. In contrast to life-long officers, police students have to fear tougher consequences. ”Police students and trainees in the police force are officers on revocation; if there are justified doubts about their loyalty to the constitution, it is easier to kick them out. Lux says: “Now you have to find out how long other students have watched or even supported it.”

It should also be checked to what extent signs of inhuman behavior could have been known before hiring, says Lux: “You shouldn’t put the case on file, but critically examine why people who make such statements come to the police.” Looking at the other chat group, you can also see that racism remains a constant topic in the police.

Benjamin Jendro of the police union said he was positive that the report this time came from the police themselves. He said: “The current incident shows how transparently the Berlin police deal with such cases and how quickly appropriate measures are taken.” It will never be possible to completely prevent right-wing extremist ideas from spreading in the police. It is crucial that all democratically thinking colleagues rebel against it and not look the other way. This is the only way to filter out those who do not belong in the police, says Jendro.

However, he said nothing about the further known and still unexplained right-wing chat group and connections between individual police officers and main suspects in the right-wing extremist terror series in Neukölln.

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Allegations against the Magdeburg police: anti-Semitism, quite normal

An entire department of the Saxony-Anhalt police is said to have tolerated and spread anti-Semitism. The state policy is drawing its first conclusions.

At the inauguration of a new kennel for the Saxony-Anhalt police: Interior Minister Stahlknecht Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert / dpa

LEIPZIG / BERLIN taz | In the entire Magdeburg riot police station, it is said to have been common practice since the 1990s to refer to the operator of the canteen there as “Jews”. The Saxony-Anhalt Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (CDU) announced on Monday.

The cases became known due to an anonymous e-mail that was received by the Burgenlandkreis police station last Friday – the anniversary of the anti-Semitic and racist terrorist attack in Halle. In this accused the: the sender: in that the “entire office” knew the circumstance and did “nothing to prevent”. “This institutional anti-Semitism has to stop,” it says in the letter.

The allegations were investigated immediately and were confirmed, said Stahlknecht. He was “affected, scared, angry and shaken” by the incidents. Last week, the Interior Minister himself was criticized for having said that the police who guarded Jewish facilities in Saxony-Anhalt were missing elsewhere.

The Central Council of Jews accused him of promoting anti-Semitism and suggested that he resign. Max Privorozki, the chairman of the Jewish community in Halle, also said that he was “really shocked” by Stahlknecht’s statement.

Similar case in the Bundeswehr

Stahlknecht himself denied responsibility and only said at a press conference that he was sorry if he had been misunderstood. The police presence to protect Jewish facilities has “top priority”.

Now the interior minister is forced to act: A special commission is to investigate the case in the Magdeburg police more closely. According to Stahlknecht, Jerzy Montag, legal policy spokesman for the Green parliamentary group, is to lead the investigation. However, internal circles denied that there were already firm agreements in place. All that was said was a question and considerations.

Montag would not be inexperienced as an expert: He was already in charge of the special investigation into the Oury Jalloh case and is currently an expert on the commission for dealing with right-wing extremism incidents in the Hessian police.

In addition to the investigation in the specific Magdeburg case, the State Ministry of the Interior is trying to draw further conclusions. The protection of the constitution, Stefan Damke, is to take the newly created post of extremism officer and set up a complaints office. In addition, external experts are to investigate the spread of anti-Semitism and racism in the state police.

Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) had already initiated a similar study. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) has so far refused to carry out such investigations at the federal level. He claimed that there was “no structural problem” in the federal and state security authorities. Christiane Bergmann, Head of the Public Security Department in the Ministry of the Interior in Saxony-Anhalt, however, emphasized with regard to the latest case in Magdeburg: “You cannot speak of individual cases.”

A similar case became known from the German armed forces at the beginning of the year: In his annual report, the Bundestag’s armed forces commissioner reported on a non-commissioned officer who described a canteen leaseholder as a “real Jew” because of allegedly excessive prices. She received disciplinary proceedings and the outcome is unknown.

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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.

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Racial Police Violence in the US: The Second Killing of Breonna Taylor

No charges will be brought against the police officers whose shots killed the paramedic 6 months ago. Thousands protested against it.

Wednesday evening in Louisville: Hundreds of demonstrators disagree Foto: Darron Cummings / ap / dpa

NEW YORK taz | It was Breonna Taylor’s second killing. Six months after three white police officers in Louisville, Kentucky shot the 26-year-old black paramedic in her bed in the middle of the night, a grand jury decided on Wednesday afternoon not to charge anyone with her death.

“It was a tragedy,” said Daniel Cameron, Kentucky attorney general. The grand jury only ordered one of the three policemen to be charged with “willful endangerment” because his shots also went into a neighboring apartment, where they put three members of a family in danger. The policeman was released on bail on Wednesday. His two colleagues, including the alleged Taylor shooter, continue to serve in the local police force.

As soon as the decision was known, hundreds of protesters in Louisville chanted: “No justice – no peace”. Ben Crump, one of Taylor’s family lawyers, spoke of an “outrageous and offensive” decision. “I’m not surprised, but I’m mad as hell,” said Tawanna Gordon, a cousin of the dead, to a reporter for the Mail Journal: “Nothing changes here.” And Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, who had repeatedly demanded dismissals and charges against all three police officers since March 13, was speechless on Wednesday.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Washington, New York and other US cities to protest the decision. In Louisville, the authorities had imposed a night curfew before the grand jury decision was announced. Late on Wednesday evening, young black and white protesters in the city faced tightly packed rows of colleagues from the three police officers who witnessed the fatal attack in Taylor’s apartment in March. The policemen wore combat uniforms, guns and clubs drawn. Armored vehicles stood behind them.

Different versions from the night of the crime

Two policemen were gunshot late in the evening. Where the shots came from was not known at the time of going to press. Right-wing US media journalists and right-wing bloggers were quick to demand that Black Lives Matter be declared a terrorist organization. In Washington, Donald Trump congratulated the Kentucky Attorney General, one of the few black Republicans in the country, on his “fantastic handling” of the case.

Breonna Taylor was killed by police in her Louisville home on the night of March 13th. She was sleeping in bed with her boyfriend when plainclothes officers broke down the door and broke into the apartment. Her friend, who legally owns a firearm, thought it was a break-in, so pulled out his pistol and fired a shot. Then he called the police 911 to report both the break-in and serious injuries to his girlfriend. Numerous gunshots can be heard in the background on the recording of the call.

There are different versions of the details of the nightly mission. The policemen claim to have called “police” before breaking down the door. But Taylor’s friend, Kenneth Walker, didn’t hear about it. According to the police, an eyewitness from the neighborhood should have heard the police announcement. But when researching Taylor’s immediate neighbors, she found New York Times barely a dozen people in the apartment building with thin walls and doors who didn’t hear a warning that night. Like Taylor and her boyfriend, they didn’t wake up until the police broke into Taylor’s apartment and fired dozens of shots.

At his press conference on Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Cameron said the shots at the police officers who killed Taylor were “justified” in order to “protect themselves.”

On the road for 200 days without a break

The origin of the gunshot wound in the thigh of one of the three police officers is also controversial. According to police, Taylor’s friend is responsible for this. But he doubts that it was his ball. The drugs and money officially involved in the brutal police operation in Taylor’s apartment were not found.

The police came to Taylor with a “no-knock warrant”. During such searches in Kentucky, she doesn’t need to knock or warn.

In the nearly 200 days since Taylor’s death, Black Lives Matter activists in Louisville have been continuously mobilized. On the one hand, they made the name of the innocent dead woman known internationally. Have put their likeness on the covers of magazines and on billboards on the roadside, as well as on the T-shirts of professional athletes and Hollywood stars. And, on the other hand, they have protested against “no knock searches” and other brutal police practices.

As of June, the Louisville Town Council approved several minor police reforms. A week ago, the city agreed with Taylor’s family on an unusually high settlement payment of $ 12 million – and announced further police reforms.

On Wednesday, right after the grand jury’s decision, the former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders, spoke of a “shame” and a “waiver of justice”. He added that the “racist criminal justice system needs urgent and fundamental change”.

Football player Colin Kaepernick, who initiated kneeling in sports stadiums as an anti-racist protest in 2016, also commented on the decision. He called the events in Louisville new evidence of the dangers posed by the police. “For our safety,” he wrote, “the white racist institution that stole Breonna Taylor’s life must be abolished.”

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Racism in the police: Seehofer continues to reject the study

After the right-wing extremism scandal with the police in North Rhine-Westphalia, Horst Seehofer rejects a study on racist prejudice. The SPD criticizes that.

Doesn’t think a study on racist prejudice in the police is necessary: ​​Horst Seehofer Photo: dpa

BERLIN afp / epd | Despite the right-wing extremism scandal among the police in North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) rejects, according to a report by Süddeutsche Zeitung on Friday a study on racist prejudice among the police continued.

“This process at the police in North Rhine-Westphalia hurts,” said Seehofer SZ. But he is convinced “that the overwhelming majority of our police officers reject such machinations”.

This majority stands “beyond any doubt about our free democratic basic order,” said the minister. The protection of the constitution will “present a report on this topic at the end of September”. However, this status report on right-wing extremism in the public service was planned for a long time, regardless of current developments.

The chairman of the conference of interior ministers, Thuringia’s head of department Georg Maier (SPD), promised a study on racism in the police in the SPD-ruled countries. “It is unbearable that such networks exist,” Maier told dem Editorial network Germany: “We now have to take uncompromising and consistent action against it.”

Georg Maier (SPD), chairman of the conference of interior ministers

“The sheer number of individual cases is slowly becoming too much”

This includes exhausting all criminal and disciplinary options, said Maier. “There must not be the slightest doubt that police officers operate on the basis of the free and democratic basic order,” he added.

The SPD interior ministers are in agreement that they want to conduct a study on the allegation of racism in the police – and if necessary alone. “The sheer number of individual cases is slowly becoming too much,” said Maier.

“We strongly advocate intensifying research in this field,” said the SPD interior expert in the Bundestag, Lars Castellucci SZ. Nobody questions an entire profession because of individual incidents.

“Recognize attitude patterns early on”

The large majority in the police are constitutional, he also emphasized. It is all the more important, however, “to recognize early on whether there are attitude patterns and prejudices among employees of the security authorities”. There is also still a lack of intercultural competence in authorities.

Against 30 police officers, mostly from the Essen police headquarters, allegations are made of right-wing extremist activities. All 30 have been suspended from work, according to the Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul (CDU), around 14 are subject to disciplinary proceedings with the aim of removing them from service, and around 12 are under criminal investigation.

In the summer, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) rejected a study on racism among the German police in view of the Black Lives Matter movement originating from the USA. His departmental colleagues from the Union in the federal states largely reject calls for a racism study.

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Consequences of the NRW police scandal: a structural problem?

To this day, the interior ministers have refused to conduct a study on extremism in the police. The NRW affair, however, gives weight to the demand.

Now wants to clarify: North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul Photo: Rolf Vennenberg / dpa

DÜSSELDORF / BERLIN taz | Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) spoke on Thursday in the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament of a “dimension and abomination that I did not think possible”. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) also let his spokesman speak of a “shame”. And BKA President Holger Münch admitted that it was about “incidents that considerably shake confidence in the police”.

The question is: what follows from this?

We are talking about the NRW police scandal. 29 police officers were suspended because they were part of right-wing extremist Whatsapp chat groups, some of which had existed since 2012. Almost all of the victims belonged to the Essen Police Headquarters, a service group in Mülheim was completely released, including the service group leader. On Thursday, Reul spoke of another suspended officer, also from the Mülheim group.

The consequences are now being discussed nationwide. And the affair could get worse. Because so far the investigators only had the phone of one officer who started the investigation. But since Wednesday they have been evaluating 43 phones, 18 SIM cards, 21 USB sticks, 20 hard drives, 9 tablets and 9 PCs. A decorative weapon and small amounts of narcotics were also found.

Do we need nationwide consequences?

Reul has already installed a special representative for right-wing extremist tendencies in the police, the previous Vice-Constitutional Protection Officer Uwe Reichel-Offermann. This should now work out a picture of the situation and prevention recommendations. But is that enough? How could it be that no one in the police reported the chat groups for years? And isn’t there a need for supra-regional measures?

Reul admits that one can no longer speak of individual cases. Seehofer’s spokesman also said: “We’re not talking about individuals.” Right-wing extremist chat groups of Hessian police officers became known as early as the end of 2018 – after threatening faxes to the lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız. This triggered 38 criminal and disciplinary proceedings. A right-wing prepper network in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had already been exposed beforehand, which created lists of enemies and in which police officers and soldiers took part. In Lahr, Baden-Württemberg, seven police students who exchanged right-wing extremist chats were suspended. And in North Rhine-Westphalia a police employee from Hamm who is said to be part of the right-wing terror group “Group S.” was arrested in March.

The demand for an independent nationwide investigation into right-wing extremist attitudes of police officers has therefore been in the air for some time. Greens, leftists and parts of the SPD are now calling for this again. Sebastian Fiedler, chairman of the Association of German Criminal Investigators, also declared it overdue to “let scientists join our ranks”. Seehofer and other interior ministers, including Reul, have so far blocked such a study, as well as one on racial profiling.

The protection of the constitution is fighting with a picture of the situation

Instead, Seehofer recently referred to a situation report on extremism in the security authorities, which the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is currently working on. After repeated postponements, this should now be ready at the end of September. The creation showed difficulties: Which incidents are even listed? Are suspicious cases already counting or are disciplinary proceedings just completed?

According to ARD The deliveries from the countries were initially so meager that the constitutional protection chief Thomas Haldenwang demanded additional deliveries, including suspected cases. NRW is said to have only submitted 12 cases. A spokeswoman for Reuls said that the current 30 police cases are currently being agreed with the Federal Office.

The criminologist Tobias Singelnstein nevertheless considers an independent scientific study on right-wing extremist attitudes in the police to be “absolutely necessary”. “We finally need reliable figures on how big the problem is. The structural character of the problem has not yet been recognized. ”For Singelnstein, the situation report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is not sufficient. “The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has not been able to collect the numbers for years and it is not the right institution.”

“Those who remain silent are complicit”

Left and Greens are also calling for independent complaints offices for police incidents. Singelnstein also advocates a new police culture. If no one reported the right-wing extremist chats, there was obviously no clear internal demarcation. “A culture is needed in which the democratic self-image is actually lived.” On Thursday, Reul also confirmed that the police had a “posture problem” in parts: For reasons of comradeship, misconduct is kept silent. But: “Anyone who remains silent is complicit.”

In fact, there were early indications of right-wing ideas in Essen – even if Police President Frank Richter was surprised and stunned on Wednesday. According to the anti-fascist alliance “Essen is standing across”, left-wing rallies have been bullied for months, unlike right-wing marches. In addition, officials had become racially conspicuous. When the alliance named this, there was: a criminal complaint. “The fact that there is a problem within the Essen police authority seems blatant to us,” explained the initiative.

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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”.

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Police scandal in NRW: images of Hitler and swastikas

In NRW, 29 police officers are suspended who exchanged information in right-wing extremist chat groups. Interior Minister Reul speaks of a “shame”.

Is appalled by the police affair: North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul Photo: Marcel Kusch / dpa

DÜSSELDORF / BERLIN taz | North Rhine-Westphalia is shaken by a police scandal. Since early Wednesday morning, searches of 29 police officers have been in progress in several cities. You are said to have shared right-wing extremist content in Whatsapp chat groups. Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) spoke of “the worst and most disgusting neo-Nazi, racist and anti-refugee agitation”. The incidents hit the police “to the core”. They are “a shame for the NRW police”.

Mainly affected is the Essen police headquarters. 25 of the 29 officials accused come from there. Most belonged to the subordinate service group in Mülheim an der Ruhr, which was completely suspended. The local service group leader is also accused, as well as another from the SEK Essen, one from the LKA, one from the State Office for Training and two from the State Office for Central Police Services.

A total of 34 police stations and private apartments were searched, in addition to Essen and Mülheim in Duisburg, Oberhausen and Moers. The officials are said to have exchanged right-wing extremist content in five private chat groups. The first of the groups is said to have been founded in 2012, the largest in 2015.

Swastikas and Hitler pictures

Reul spoke of well over 100 criminally relevant images in the chat groups. On display are Adolf Hitler and swastikas or fictional representations of a refugee in a gas chamber or a black person who is shot. The CDU politician spoke of “hideous content”. 11 of the officials are now being investigated for disseminating symbols of unconstitutional organizations and inciting hatred. You should have put the pictures in the groups.

The other 18 officers are said to have only received the pictures. However, disciplinary measures are now also in progress against them on suspicion of violations – because they did not report the content. According to Reul, all 29 police officers are suspended, they had to surrender their uniforms and service weapons and are no longer allowed to enter their service buildings. Efforts are being made to remove 14 officials from service.

“The process leaves me speechless,” said Reul. Right-wing extremists have “no place in the police”. He could no longer speak of individual cases. The majority of the 50,000 police officers in North Rhine-Westphalia are “highly decent people and democrats”.

Only revealed by accident

The investigators only came across the chat groups by chance – after a 32-year-old official was searched at the end of August. The policeman was accused of having disclosed police matters to a journalist. The chat groups were then discovered on his cell phone. Then a separate investigative group began its work, the “SoKo Parable”. And the scandal could expand: until now, the investigators only had access to the 32-year-old’s cell phone. Since Wednesday, however, far more data carriers have been evaluated.

Reul announced that he would deal with the affair “down to the smallest detail”. On Wednesday he ordered the formation of a special inspection for the Essen police headquarters. There it should be checked whether there are further cases and how many officials still knew of the chat groups. In addition, Reul announced a special representative for right-wing extremist tendencies in the state police, who will report directly to him. This should develop a picture of the situation and recommendations for action for prevention. There will also be regional conferences with police leaders.

Police union and politics “shaken”

The Essen police chief Frank Richter, whose house is mainly affected, said that he could not have imagined such a case. There were no abnormalities, only private devices were used for the chats. That none of the officers involved had informed his employer was shocking.

The police union in North Rhine-Westphalia also reacted with “great horror” to the incidents. “Fighting right-wing extremism is part of the police’s DNA,” said Vice President Michael Maatz. “The fact that there are still officials who share right-wing, xenophobic content in chat groups is unbearable.”

The CDU interior expert Christos Katzidis was also “deeply shaken”: “That those who should protect and defend our values ​​have trampled them instead is scandalous.” SPD country chief Sebastian Hartmann called for a “relentless explanation and zero Tolerance against the enemies of our democratic society ”.

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After Breonna Taylor dies: City pays millions to loved ones

The Mayor of Louisville announces reforms. The African American Breonna Taylor was shot dead during a police operation.

Mourning Breonna Taylor: Memorial ceremony in Louisville on September 10th Foto: Bryan Woolston/reuters

LOUISVILLE dpa | Six months after the police killing of Afro-American Breonna Taylor in a police operation, the city of Louisville has settled a civil lawsuit with a high severance payment and a promise of police reform. Taylor’s family will receive 12 million US dollars (10 million euros), Mayor Greg Fischer told journalists on Tuesday, September 15.

The criminal proceedings with the decision on a possible charge against the police officers responsible for Taylor’s death are still pending, said Fischer. “The truth has to come out,” he demanded. This is “just the beginning to get justice for Breonna,” emphasized her mother Tamika Palmer.

Due to a search warrant, the police broke the door to the 26-year-old paramedic’s apartment on March 13, apparently without warning. Then there was an exchange of fire between Taylor’s partner and the police. Taylor was hit by eight bullets, according to media reports.

As part of the deal with Taylor’s family, the Kentucky mayor announced mandatory police reforms. In the future, among other things, every use of force by police officers is to be closely followed and, if necessary, examined by a newly created control authority.

Police reforms against structural racism

In addition, with the help of a new program, police officers should also be able to be accompanied by social workers during operations. Fischer also promised stricter control of search warrants and more transparency in police operations. Good police officers value greater openness, explained Fischer.

A family lawyer, Lonita Baker, said it was always about more than just compensation. The police reforms are a starting point to fight structural racism in the city. Another lawyer, Ben Crump, said the family payment was the largest ever settlement payment in the United States for a police-induced black death.

Crump demanded that the officers responsible should be arrested and charged “immediately”. The attorney also represents the family of African American George Floyd, who was killed by police officers in the state of Minnesota in late May.

The brutal and videotaped killing of Floyd had sparked nationwide protests against racism and police violence. It was only the indignation after Floyd’s death that made Taylor’s case known nationwide. Since then, many politicians and celebrities, including pop superstar Beyoncé and presenter Oprah Winfrey, have been calling for charges in Breonna Taylor’s case.

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