Shortly before Christmas, there is an eerie emptiness in downtown Munich at night. Kaufinger Strasse, Munich’s central shopping mile, is hung with fairy lights and garlands. The kitsch flashes from all facades. Traditional Christmas carols whisper from loudspeakers in the Oberpollinger department store.
An elderly man is wrapped in a sleeping bag in a corner listening to pop music on a pocket radio. A delivery driver cycles through the pedestrian zone. Two police cars drive past at high speed shortly after 9 p.m. There are only those on the road who cannot help themselves. The corona pandemic and the ever increasing number of infections have Bavaria firmly under control: a nationwide night curfew has been in effect since December 22nd.
Markus Söder announced the new measures on December 13 with a serious expression. If you want to leave the apartment between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., you need it now “good reasons”. These include medical emergencies, work, caring for those in need, minors and the dying, walking or walking the dog “Similarly weighty and irrefutable reasons”. Private celebrations and meetings are to be prevented. In the inner city areas of Bavaria, unreasonable groups of people would have met to drink mulled wine and violated hygiene recommendations. That makes the step necessary.
If you violate the curfew, you have to pay a sensitive fine of at least 500 euros. Since December 16, this has been the case in Bavaria in districts that have a 7-day incidence value of more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. The Bavarian Constitutional Court ruled that the curfew did not violate the Bavarian Constitution, the rule of law, or fundamental rights.
At Christmas, Munich’s inner city area shows what the state government’s measures look like in practice. At 9:20 p.m., shortly after the curfew came into effect, four hastily parked patrol cars were parked on Sonnenstrasse. Several police officers surround two people sitting in the entrance of a closed shop and talk to them. Both are led away – why remains unclear. “Communication is very difficult to say the least … I only know that he is dark-skinned”, an official’s message can be heard from a loud radio. The cars drive away quickly.
About 50 meters further on, another group is sitting on the floor in front of the Hieber Lindberg music store and observing the situation. They are wrapped in sleeping bags, winter jackets and blankets. They have also had problems with the police, they say. Every day it is a game of cat and mouse. They would be scared away, but had no home to stay.
A short time later, police officers in the entrance of a deserted cinema control and search a young man who does not-White is. After bags and body searches, he is allowed to go. Selected at random or is it racial profiling?
The officers deployed actually do not want to talk to journalists and refer them to the press office. Only the fact that the violations in the inner city area subjectively increased can be elicited from the officials.
On request, the Munich police say that 100 to 200 officers are tasked with checking the nightly curfew in Munich alone. The Ministry of the Interior has already identified over 3000 violations across Bavaria since December 16. How many of the proceedings are directed against people without a permanent residence, the Ministry of the Interior cannot provide on request. It is at least questionable whether the situation of homeless people is given special consideration when planning police operations.
Already in the summer, after a video of a violent police operation with a racist dimension at Munich’s Gärtnerplatz went viral on Instagram, the Munich city society came to a dispute with the expanded powers of the police in the wake of the corona pandemic. The Left Party then asked the police via the city council, according to which criteria people were elected for controls. There was no answer.
The impression remains that those who are already marginalized, marked as foreign and undesirable, are affected by the curfew controls. The rest of society stays at home for fear of astronomical punishments or passes by quickly and purposefully. The curfew should continue to apply until January 10th.