Michigan: FBI foiled Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping policy

It’s not that there weren’t any warning signs, on the contrary. Gretchen Whitmer had been the target of criticism all spring. Criticism that ignited the harsh corona regulations that she had imposed as governor of Michigan. There were the demonstrators with the signs saying “Stop Tyranny”. There were the armed men in riot gear who broke into the state parliament. There was Donald Trump, who fueled the protests as much as possible. “FREE MICHIGAN!” Tweeted the US President. Even then, there were voices asking where this would lead.

They received an answer on Thursday. When the FBI announced that they had foiled a planned kidnapping of Gretchen Whitmer, many were appalled – but not necessarily surprised. That says a lot about the mood that prevails in the USA a few weeks before the presidential election. About the fear of politically motivated violence, which is growing in the heated atmosphere of this year. And about the fear of armed groups going to extremes. “This is a sick attack attempt, as we know it from the Islamic State, but now we have the problem at home,” said Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Armed men stand in riot gear in Michigan Parliament in late April. (Archive image)

(Foto: Seth Herald/REUTERS)

What the FBI set out in its indictment published on Thursday sounds like a movie, but it was apparently very real. Investigators accuse a group of “violent extremists” who have since been arrested of plotting against the Michigan government, initiating a civil war – and kidnapping the governor. At the beginning of the year, the FBI said it was aware that the group was rolling over plans for overturning on social media. In June, the men specified their plans. They conducted joint weapons training, made explosives and located the private holiday home Whitmers, where they wanted to kidnap the governor.

Apparently there were plans to move Whitmer to secure accommodation in a neighboring state and to put her on trial for “treason”. The group was also in contact with another Michigan militia, which they hoped would bring 200 armed members to storm the state parliament and take hostages there.

The plans were exposed because the FBI had smuggled informants who informed the authorities in a timely manner. 13 men can now expect charges. About the political orientation of these men, the indictment merely states that they are guided by an attitude hostile to the state. The suspects described Whitmer as a “tyrant” in conversations with one another, using phrases that were often heard by right-wing groups during the anti-lockdown protests.

Whitmer himself – like other Democrats – drew a direct link between the arrested extremists and Donald Trump. He was asked last week during the TV duel with Joe Biden whether he distanced himself from white racists – and did so only halfway. “Sure,” said Trump when asked by the moderator, and then added to the address of a right-wing extremist group: “Hold back and be ready.” Extremists of all kinds heard very well what the president meant by that, Whitmer said on Thursday: “This was not a reprimand, but a call to go to battle.”

After the suspects were arrested in Michigan, Trump was not heard from for several hours. The president tweeted a multitude of things on all sorts of things before speaking up later that evening – and attacking Whitmer. She said she “did a terrible job” in dealing with the Michigan pandemic. Instead of thanking him for “my Justice Department and security agencies” preventing her kidnapping, Whitmer called him a racist. In contrast to the Democrats, he does not tolerate any extreme violence.

That was a variation of what Trump has been doing since the beginning of his term in office: equating left-wing extremist with right-wing extremist violence. Both are a problem in the US, but the danger from the right is clearly greater – not only in the eyes of the Democrats, but also in the eyes of the US government. He was “particularly concerned about violent racist extremists who have become exceptionally deadly in their targeted attacks,” wrote Chad Wolf, the executive secretary of homeland security, appointed by Trump, in a recent situation report.

“Racially motivated extremism” is the greatest terrorist threat domestically, FBI Director Christopher Wray recently told Congress. So the warning signs are there. Not for the first time.

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Oktoberfest attack: 1.2 million euros for the victims – Munich

When you ask Renate Martinez these days whether someone has already contacted her about compensation from the state, she sighs audibly and a little bitterly. “Hopefully I’ll see it again,” she says with a touch of gallows humor.

As a young woman, Renate Martinez was seriously injured in the legs in the Oktoberfest attack on September 26, 1980 by the bomb of the right-wing extremist assassin Gundolf Köhler. Today she can only walk with difficulty on the rollator. Until recently, she did not really believe that after 40 years the state would still pull itself together to help the injured and victims of the Oktoberfest attack financially. Nice words, she said, nothing else.

Renate Martinez was wrong. She will receive a letter from Mayor Dieter Reiter in the next few weeks, announcing that the federal government, the state and the city now want to help her and the other more than 200 people injured in the attack. After months of negotiations, the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich have agreed to set up a fund of 1.2 million euros from which the victims of the attack will receive unbureaucratic help. The federal government is paying € 500,000, Bavaria € 500,000, and the city of Munich € 200,000. A full four decades after the fact.

It should be noted in the words of Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, the Bavarian Social Minister Carolina Trautner and OB Reiter how urgently they consider this help to be – and how little they can understand that it took so long for this help to reach the victims . “A late, but nevertheless important sign of solidarity with those affected by this devastating attack,” said Justice Minister Lambrecht. And Reiter says: “Even if we cannot undo the suffering and painful memories of the survivors, this joint fund of the federal government, the Free State and the city shows – albeit much too late – that all political levels are willing to give the people this To give incredibly cruel right-wing terrorist attacks the attention and financial support they have long deserved. ” Long earned, much too late – these are characteristic words that suggest how much the state is behind in recognizing the victims.

Investigations were restarted – and only concluded in the summer

The city of Munich has given 100,000 euros in recent years. But the federal and state governments have been waiting for the assessment of the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe. The had resumed the investigation into the Oktoberfest attack in December 2014 and only now, in summer 2020, completed. Although it did not find anyone behind the attack, it turned the assessment of the act 180 degrees. Up until now, the assassination was considered an act of a lovesick young man, but not a right-wing terror. The fact that Gundolf Köhler trained with the right-wing extremist military sports group Hoffmann and had a picture of Hitler hanging over the bed was not taken by the investigators in 1980 as evidence of a political motive. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office sees it differently today: For them, the attack is clearly right-wing terror. Köhler wanted to influence the federal election ten days later, in which Franz Josef Strauss (CSU) ran against Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD).

This new assessment is important for the victims. Because only it allows the authorities to fall back on the victim fund for victims of terrorism. It was only she who made the agreement between the federal government, the Free State and the city possible. The city of Munich will now organize the distribution of the money. And the mayor expressly wants it to be unbureaucratic. Nobody should have to beg for their money. So no more lengthy reports on the physical damage and its long-term consequences – because they are obvious after 40 years. No delay in paying out, because many of those affected are now of retirement age, their complaints are not getting any easier and they are not getting younger. Not all of the 211 people who survived the attack were injured are already living. The city of Munich still knows around 170 survivors. And they are now being written to.

In addition, there should be fixed contact persons for the victims so that they are not passed on from office to office. And the severity of the injuries should also play a role in the payment. There will be a phased procedure for this. Victim attorney Werner Dietrich had asked for something similar, but on a different financial scale.

The fund still has to go through the vote in the Bundestag, but, it is said in Berlin, one cannot imagine anyone voting against it. The city council in Munich still has to agree. But there shouldn’t be any resistance either. The money could be paid out from early 2021.

In a joint declaration on Wednesday, the federal government, the state and the city made it clear how important it is to them not to leave the victims alone. “We want to support the people who are still suffering from the consequences of the attack today. The state must be more there for those affected by right-wing extremism, racism and human hatred,” said Federal Justice Minister Lambrecht (SPD). Bavaria’s Minister of Social Affairs Trautner (CSU) said: “The Free State is taking a stand against right-wing extremism and is on the side of those affected, to whom our solidarity and our sympathy go.”

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Commemoration event in Hanau: allegations to the authorities

The memorial rally in Hanau was set a maximum of 249 people. The stream of the event was shown in 50 cities.

Come to remember: people in Hanau held up pictures and names of the victims Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

HANAU taz | An employee of the city administration ran with a folding rule across the Freiheitsplatz in the center of Hanau on Saturday morning and painted 249 pink dots on the paving stones. 249 – that’s how many demonstrators the city of Hanau had set as the maximum limit for the memorial rally for the victims of the attack on February 19 on Friday evening. Thousands of people were actually expected. But because of the surge in corona infections, Mayor Claus Kaminsky (SPD) surprisingly banned the long-planned demo of relatives.

“We regret this, but we are not corona rebels,” the organizers of the February 19th (I19F) initiative wrote on Friday evening. The mobilization was “canceled”. At the same time, they called for the rally, which was now largely without an audience, to be shown by video stream in as many places as possible on Saturday afternoon.

At 3 p.m. on Saturday, nobody paid any attention to the points. The people had spread out loosely across the square. The exact number was not counted, but the police saw that the distance rules were complied with.

Difficult to hold speeches

“We are only allowed to stand here with 249 people, while thousands are shopping and drinking wine around us,” said Newroz Duman from the I19F when he greeted us. In front of the audience stood Kaminsky, in his hand a “reminder” sign, next to Nancy Faeser, the SPD state chairman in Hesse, and the president of Eintracht Frankfurt, Peter Fischer.

Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins ​​and friends of the dead spoke for around two hours. In speeches, some of which were difficult to hold, they described the pain that the murders left them with the 9 victims of the attack. “This country has made us victims,” complained the mother of the murdered Sedat Guerbuez. “The cemetery has become my apartment.”

Serpil Unvar, mother of the killed Ferhat Unvar, explained: “I would have wanted to tell him so much, I always thought we still had time.” Her son “had the experience over and over again that we are not accepted as foreigners. Some teachers hate foreign children. And children notice that. “

Several relatives made serious allegations against the authorities. Alija Kurtovic, the sister of the murdered Hamza Kurtovic, asked how it could be possible that the assassin R. announced his act in writing to several public prosecutors and was then allowed to take part in combat training in Slovakia completely unhindered.

“R. was a permanent guest in the district court. How can it be that he was allowed to keep his gun license? ”Asked Çetin Gültekin, the brother of the murdered Goekhan Gueltekin. He called for the resignation of the Hessian Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU), because he glossed over the series of failures in the Hanau case “also as excellent police work”.

No language in the world for suffering

In the end, the number of people who followed the rally on the Internet was likely to have been higher than the originally expected demonstrators. According to United we stream, around 300,000 people watched the video online by 6 p.m. Local groups in around 50 cities responded to the initiative’s call on February 19 and showed the video stream on site. Dozens of NGOs and media broadcast the stream on their web or Facebook pages.

“No language in the world can find words to describe this act, to express the suffering of the relatives,” said Eintracht President Fischer. “But we can be loud and show solidarity and defend ourselves together.” Fischer had visited many relatives of the victims in recent months.

Hanau’s Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky was also on the list of speakers. Despite the demo ban, the I19F had not canceled his appearance. “The relationship is still good, there was a meeting in the morning,” said I19F spokesman Mario Neumann.

Kaminsky himself decided not to speak. “I would have been the only politician here who would have spoken and, given our decision yesterday, I should have spoken about Corona. I think that’s wrong accentuation, ”Kaminsky told the local news portal Op-Online. “I’ve had the opportunity to speak about it very often in the past six months and I think my position is clear.”

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Murder trial in the Lübcke case: “It has torn us apart”

In the trial of the Lübcke murder, his son describes the deep pain of the family on Tuesday. However, the court exempts a defense lawyer.

The sons of Walter Lübcke on the first day of the trial Photo: Thomas Lohnes / dpa

FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | Jan-Hendrik Lübcke leans back on the witness chair and shows the judge how he found his father Walter at the night of June 2, 2019. He leans his head back, opens his mouth, and spreads his arms. So he had his father sitting on the terrace chair at that time, holding a cigarette in his left hand. The son describes it calmly, speaks calmly. It’s very quiet in the courtroom. “I thought he was sleeping.”

But Walter Lübcke hadn’t fallen asleep. He had been shot. It was probably the first murder of a politician by a right-wing extremist in the post-war period. To Walter Lübcke, the Kassel government president and CDU politician.

On Tuesday, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke, his son, testified in the trial before the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court. It will be an emotional moment in this negotiation. The trial has been running since June, and Jan-Hendrik Lübcke has been visiting it with his older brother and mother as a co-plaintiff since the beginning. On Tuesday, he speaks himself, as a witness, in a gray suit and black shirt.

Because Jan-Hendrik Lübcke was the first to find the dying Walter Lübcke on June 2, 2019. In the place of residence, the small Istha near Kassel, the wheat fair was celebrated at that time, a village festival. Walter Lübcke had stayed at home, sat outside for a cigarette and a tablet. Then he was shot in the head at around 11:20 p.m.

Rescue workers initially did not recognize murder

In court, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke now describes how his father used to weed in the garden of the common house during the day, with dungarees, checked shirt and sandals. The 30-year-old tells this with accurate memory, set. In the evening, the grandparents should take care of the grandson, the son of Jan-Hendrik Lübcke’s brother. The son says that he himself went to the wheat fair with friends.

Already on his return, around 0.30 a.m., but he stopped. The light was on in the kitchen, the patio door was open. Then he saw his father on the terrace chair. He shook his arm, noticed that it felt cool. Then panic rose. “I was thinking of a heart attack.” The son called paramedics, tried to get the father to the floor, to reanimate him. Jan-Hendrik Lübcke describes how overwhelmed he was, how alone and fearful. Now his hands are trembling at the witness desk, he is breathing heavily.

The evoked rescue workers did not initially recognize that his father was shot. But suddenly there was blood on the terrace, flowing from the father’s mouth and nose. “The paramedics couldn’t explain that either,” says Jan-Hendrik Lübcke.

Family members were then taken to the hospital, where the father’s death was finally determined. Police officers who had only just arrived had told them there in the early morning that “an object” had been found in Walter Lübcke’s head. The revolver bullet.

Walter Lübcke missed backing

So the son initially describes the evening of the crime, he becomes so emotional when judge Thomas Sagebiel asks him about the consequences of the murder. “It torn us apart. We will never cope with what was done to our father. It remains incomprehensible. ”Jan-Hendrik Lübcke describes how he still cannot work fully today. “I’m still a long way from everyday life.” His mother also suffered; she had been married to Walter Lübcke for forty years. “She was hit harder.”

Stephan E., the accused, follows all of this without emotion. He stares into the room as if petrified. There Jan-Hendrik Lübcke revives his father again. He portrays him as a good father, cheerful, cosmopolitan, willing to talk. “The office of President of the Government was his calling.” He would have retired in autumn 2019. “He wanted time for the family, so he was looking forward to it.”

Walter Lübcke would have retired in autumn 2019, he wanted to have time for the family

However, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke also describes the moment when the thing tipped over: a citizens’ meeting in Kassel-Lohfelden, October 2015. Lübcke informed there about a planned first reception center for refugees – and sharply criticized the mobsters present. Markus H., who was co-accused in Frankfurt, distributed a video scene of this on the Internet, and Stephan E. was also on site.

In a confession, Lübcke later referred to criticism as the motive for the crime. Jan-Hendrik Lübcke reports how he learned of death threats against the father after the meeting. How he was worried for the first time and lacked political backing. But the father always wanted to help the refugees. “He held up values.”

Defenders exonerated for broken trust

Neither the Federal Prosecutor’s Office nor Stephan E.’s defense lawyers ask Jan-Hendrik Lübcke any questions. The lawyer of co-accused Markus H. only one. It could have been different. In advance, one of Stephan E.’s defenders had announced that he had “many questions” for the son: the Dresdener Frank Hannig, who is considered to be close to Pegida. But Hannig is released by the court as a defender in the morning. A little bang.

On the previous day, Hannig had made several requests for evidence without consultation: for the interrogation of other possible accomplices or for a burglary in the Kassel government presidency in July 2019, in which files had disappeared. Hannig suggested that these could have something to do with the solar energy company of the Lübcke sons, that there might be crooked business – and therefore perhaps another motive for the murder of Walter Lübcke. Judge Sagebiel called the applications “whirled nonsense”.

In fact, Stephan E. had never mentioned anything other than a right-wing motive in interviews. Hannig’s co-defender Mustafa Kaplan, once an NSU victim lawyer, also distanced himself from Hannig, also in the name of Stephan E. They didn’t want to throw dirt at the Lübckes. Stephan E. applied for Hannig’s release.

Hannig appears in the courtroom on Tuesday morning, talks to Stephan E. for minutes – before Kaplan scares him away. A little later, Judge Sagebiel follows his request: His relationship of trust with Hannig is “finally destroyed”. The accused must fear that his own lawyer will harm him.

Lübcke son demands more engagement against hatred

After Hannig tried to explain at the lecture that he was probably too uncomfortable with the application, he now takes off his robe and leaves the room without a word. For him, Jörg Hardies moves up as the new defender, Kaplan’s Cologne colleague. And Kaplan announced: On Wednesday in a week, Stephan E. now wants to testify in the process.

Jan-Hendrik Lübcke does not comment on the castling. At the beginning of the trial, he and his family said that he wanted a complete investigation into his father’s murder and punishment of the perpetrators.

However, his struggle now extends beyond the courtroom. At a memorial service for his father, Jan-Hendrik Lübcke last called for more commitment against hatred in the spirit of his father. It is everyone’s mandate to counter “this terrible ghost”. “The unculture of agitation and defamation must not solidify.”

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Arson attack on Roma: Hitler salute on the right

Five men carried out an arson attack on Roma caravans. The prosecution sees attempted murder, the men only “stupidity”.

One of the accused of the arson attack on the Roma family on Monday in the courtroom in Ulm. Photo: Stefan Puchner, dpa

ULM taz | From a purely legal point of view, there are only five young men who are on the dock here in Ulm last year because of an arson attack on a Roma family. But behind the criminal proceedings opened on Monday is also the question of whether the five were not also the executors of a fermenting extreme right-wing mood of an entire small town.

“If you go for pictures on your cell phone,” said one of the accused, “you could push something in every second in the village.” Mind you: The picture that the court had just thrown on the wall showed the accused how they held a black, white and red flag with the inscription “Germany – My Home” and showed the Hitler salute.

Yes, and the Roma, who had camped on a meadow in Erbach-Dellmensingen for two weeks, had already been the number one topic of conversation in the village. People would have been very upset about it. But: “One should already differentiate between one who breathes on the right or who is a thoroughbred Nazi,” said the accused. Nowadays you are already insulted “if you have the German flag hanging in the garden”.

“You are not welcome in Germany!”

The facts are largely undisputed. Prosecutor Patrick Bader summarized them in his indictment at the beginning of the trial: According to this, in May 2019 a group of around 30 Roma settled with their 18 caravans on the meadow in the Erbach district south-west of Ulm.

On May 24, 2019, the indictment, the five men – at the age of 17 to 20 at the time – drove to the meadow in a VW Polo shortly after 11 p.m., in the passenger seat: Leo B. When he reached the destination, he was out thrown a burning torch out at the moving car towards one of the caravans. At the time, a young woman was sleeping in the caravan with her nine-month-old son. The woman appears as a co-plaintiff in the trial.

During the action, the accused would have shouted from the car: “You are not welcome in Germany, you gypsy!” Two of the accused can remember even more precisely: “Piss off, you wankers” they would have shouted and “skin off, you gypsy ”.

Fortunately, B. missed the caravan with his litter. The torch struck a yard or two from the car. And could be quickly removed by residents of the remaining caravans, so that no one was harmed.

The accusation: joint attempted murder

The men had already pressed the Roma, put a dead swan with them

According to the prosecutor, the attack could have had devastating consequences if the torch had hit the caravan. She therefore demands that the young men be tried for joint attempted murder and attempted arson. Since four of the accused were of legal age at the time of the crime, such a sentence could mean very long prison terms for them. You have been in custody since July 10 of last year. The fifth accused, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was released from custody after five weeks.

For the investigators, there is no question that the crime was deliberately planned and in no way spontaneous. In the days before, the accused had tried to drive the Roma out of the village. Once they would have put up a sign saying “Not welcome” near the caravan, which alluded to the postal code of Erbach: “155 = Stay German”. They also put a dead swan next to the cars and eventually threw a bang between the caravans one night.

The men only want to have committed “stupidity”

In the assessment of the deed, opinions differ considerably. The young men only speak of “crap” that they would have built there, optionally also of “shit”, “stupidity” and “mess”. You wouldn’t have thought much. But in the end it was all just fun. And it was agreed that under no circumstances should you hit a caravan with the torch, but just throw it into the meadow. They just wanted to scare the Roma.

One of the accused described it as an “idea to make a kind of statement to get Roma families to leave”. “What did you have against her?” Asked the presiding judge Michael Klausner. “It was a thorn in our side that a Roma family settled in our village. I was also a bit prejudiced. ”

“Gypsies” are just a group that steals and begs. During the pre-trial detention he had learned a lot and no longer think that way today. But he was still “open to the law”. And what does it mean? “For me it is open-minded if you are sympathetic to the AfD. If you take a critical look at refugee policy. “

Not the first act

The accused have, of course, noticed earlier. Both their disposition and willingness to use violence were known. This is also evidenced by an incident in April 2018 in which three of them were involved – and which is being negotiated in a different process. The three of them sat with other young men on the 4235 regional express from Ulm to Erbach. During the trip they are said to have shouted radical right-wing slogans, including: “Germany to the Germans!” They ignored the request of a passenger of Turkish descent to moderate themselves after all. When the man got off his bike in Erbach, some of the group are said to have followed him. According to the man, one of them held him from behind, another punched him in the face. In addition, the attackers had thrown his bike and glasses on the tracks.

The man who struck was said to have been Dominik O., but Robin D. and Leo B. were also believed to have been involved in the act. According to two of the accused, however, it was the fellow traveler who sought the dispute. He insulted her as “shit-German” for no reason and then attacked Dominik O. Mehmet Daimagüler, who represents the co-plaintiff, now asked to hear the alleged victim of the station attack as a witness in this proceeding.

Daimagüler is quite satisfied with the work of the investigators in this procedure. “I thought it was very good that the police, from the outset, also carried out a strong investigation into a hate-criminal motive,” says the lawyer. In similar cases, this is often dismissed – according to the motto: A few drunk teenagers stunk. In other cases, he only had to shake his head regularly while studying the investigation files; this moment has not yet existed here.

The police also apparently worked very carefully and carefully evaluated the seized cell phones and hard drives. On the storage media, in addition to the picture of the Hitler salute, there was further material which, according to Daimaguler, indicates a racist attitude of the accused. The process is scheduled until the end of September.

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Police statistics: more extreme right-wing crime

Compared to previous years, more right-wing offenses were recorded by the police in 2019. However, the number of right-wing violent crimes fell, according to reports.

Cry for love: Right-wing crimes have apparently increased over the past year Photo: dpa

BERLIN AFP | According to a newspaper report, the German police registered more right-wing extremist crimes in 2019 than in previous years. This emerges from a response from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to a request from the Green interior expert Irene Mihalic, as the newspapers of the Funke media group report in their Tuesday editions.

According to this, 22,337 offenses of this type were registered, although the numbers are still preliminary. In 2018, the police counted 20,431 right-wing motivated crimes, 2017 a total of 20,520.

According to the newspaper report, the crimes with an extreme right-wing background registered in 2019 are mainly propaganda offenses and incitement cases.

However, the right-wing extremist motivated violent offenses are beginning to decline: according to the report, 986 acts of this kind were registered last year, up from 1156 in 2018. The Federal Ministry of the Interior wants to present the final number of cases of politically motivated crime in May.

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Right-wing violence in East Germany: “Fear is growing”

Associations for victims of right-wing violence count over 1,000 attacks in 2019. The right-wing terrorist wave and the corona pandemic threaten new hatred.

Mourners after the right attack in Halle, in which two people died Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | There is no all-clear. The counseling centers for victims of right-wing violence in eastern Germany note that the extreme right-wing threat remains high. According to their count, there were 1,088 right-wing acts of violence in the six eastern German states alone in the past year. And the associations warn: The right-wing terrorist wave and corona pandemic could lead to new attacks.

Last Saturday, Mobile Victim Counseling in Saxony-Anhalt presented its statistics for 2019. Accordingly, there were 133 right-wing motivated acts of violence in the country – including the attempted attack on the synagogue in Halle with two passers-by killed. A total of 262 people were victims of the violence, said the initiative. For example, a young leftist in Oschersleben was attacked and beaten by four men in his apartment, a black man was racially abused in a train and kicked out when he got out, two Syrians were threatened with a start pistol during a training course.

“The fear of right-wing violence and terror is growing among all groups affected,” said the advice center. The total number of crimes fell, however: in the previous year, 173 violent offenses were still counted in Saxony-Anhalt.

“Uninhibiting Violence”

Previously, the victim associations in Saxony, Thuringia, Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania presented their annual statistics. Together they came up with the 1,088 right-wing acts of violence last year – late registrations still excluded. Overall, the trend was also declining: in the previous year the number was 1,212 acts.

For example, violent crimes in Saxony fell from 317 to 226 cases. One reason here was that the numbers had skyrocketed last year due to the right-wing Chemnitz riots. Only Berlin registered a significant increase: from 309 to 390 acts – the highest level since the project was founded in 2001. Sabine Seyb from the ReachOut project there spoke of a “tabooing and uninhibiting violence against excluded population groups”. This is also shown by the fact that living spaces are increasingly being attacked directly. The perpetrators apparently felt motivated by ongoing racist debates or institutional racism by the authorities and were very confident in their actions.

The other associations also speak of a persistently high threat situation – which was only recently revealed in the racist attack in Hanau with ten deaths. The danger of further attacks is “extremely high”, warned Franz Zobel from the Thuringian association ezra. The decline in the numbers is therefore “to be assessed with caution”. Due to the normalization of racist violence, a high number of unreported cases can be assumed. “Rights and racist violence have been escalating for years and the corresponding consequences have not been drawn.” Sabine Seyb from Berlin’s ReachOut also fears that the dismay that was expressed after Hanau, “similar to the NSU’s self-exposure, will be forgotten in a few weeks “.

New hate in times of Corona?

To this end, the associations warn of another, current danger: racism in times of the corona virus. The pandemic would create new conspiracy theories, and racist blame would be popular, says Robert Schiedewitz von Lobbi from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It is feared that the accusations spread on social media could also be followed by attacks.

The Thuringian ezra also sees the danger of “further escalation of racism around Covid-19”. Anti-Asian racism could intensify again with the pandemic. It is all the more important now “to show solidarity with one another”.

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