Classification by the Protection of the Constitution: Suspected case of AfD

The protection of the constitution has been investigating for two years, now it apparently wants to declare the party a suspected right-wing extremist. The announced lawsuits.

Attention, Alexander Gauland: The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has you in its sights! Photo: Kay Nietfeld, dpa

BERLIN taz | The Office for the Protection of the Constitution obviously wants to classify the AfD as a suspected right-wing extremist case in the coming week. The taz learned this from security circles. The secret service believes that right-wing extremists in the party are so formative that monitoring the party as a whole is justified. Intelligence means such as telephone surveillance or informants can then be used against the AfD.

Two years ago the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the AfD as a test case. The right-wing extremist “wing” around Björn Höcke and Andreas Kalbitz and the AfD youth were already classified by the secret service as a suspected case, one level higher. In March 2020, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution even declared the “wing” to be a full object of observation: it was a “proven extremist effort”.

The “wing” officially dissolved as a result. His supporters around Björn Höcke remained active in the AfD. Only co-leader Andreas Kalbitz was excluded from the party for formal reasons. Since then the question has been: How great is the influence of the right-wing extremists on the party as a whole?

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been checking this since the first classification in 2018 and gave itself two years – which are now over. The Federal Office is said to have submitted an approximately 1,000-page report to Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. It apparently stated that the former “wing” supporters continued to be influential in the party. At the beginning of next week, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution will meet for a round of officials after which the classification could be announced.

Checked for two years

The AfD had also founded a working group months ago to repel an observation by the constitution protection. In the event of a classification, she announced lawsuits against it. At the last federal party conference, party leader Jörg Meuthen spoke out strongly against right-wing extremist tones in his party. One last evasive maneuver – in vain.

When reporting the approaching classification, AfD boss Tino Chrupalla told the taz: “We will, as we have repeatedly announced, take legal action against it.” Party vice-president Stephan Brandner also emphasized: “Everything has already been prepared. We expected that. The protection of the constitution is used politically in the year of the federal election. ”The Brandenburg AfD is already taking legal action against their observation. On Tuesday she wanted to file an organ dispute with the state constitutional court and a complaint before the administrative court. As the regional association announced, an interim order is being sought to prohibit the Brandenburg Ministry of the Interior from reporting on the classification.

The Brandenburg State Association has been monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution since last June. The Thuringian secret service had previously classified Björn Höcke’s regional association there as a suspected right-wing extremist.


“Total failure”, “fraudster”: right-wing extremist Proud Boys drop Trump

“Total Failure”, “Cheater”
Right-wing Proud Boys drop Trump

Needed by David

For years the right-wing extremist group Proud Boys has marched for Donald Trump, celebrating him as their “emperor”. But with the Capitol Storm everything will be different. Now the right-wing extremists are turning away from Trump – because he is not defending his presidency with war and violence.

“Heil Imperator Trump!” announced the Proud Boys after Donald Trump lost the election in November. The US president deserves full support, for example in the form of demonstrations, wrote members of the right-wing extremist group in private chat groups of the messenger service Telegram that the election had been stolen. Now that Trump has retired to Florida and Joe Biden has taken over the presidency, the Proud Boys are turning away from Trump in the same groups, as the New York Times reports.

The former US president is attacked as a hypocrite in dozens of news and channels that the newspaper analyzed. “Trump will end up as a total failure,” one channel labeled him. One should no longer take part in protests for Trump or the Republican Party, is the instruction of the right-wing extremists.

“Trump betrayed his supporters”

The break came as a surprise, because for years the Proud Boys had soaked up every word Trump with relish, supported him on the street and online. During the first TV duel of the presidential election campaign in September 2020, he had given them a kind of marching order by calling on them to “be ready”. The right group, which consists only of men, as their name suggests, was filled with pride and even designed a logo based on his statements (“stand down, stand by”).

At the beginning of January the stand-by turned into a storm on the Capitol; Spurred on by Trump’s speech, many of the Proud Boys, founded in 2016, also took part in the attack – both with their black and yellow flags and T-shirts and deliberately without symbols so as not to be subsequently exposed. At least five members of the group have so far been arrested in connection with the Capitol Storm.

Now they are turning away from Trump because he wasn’t the effective fascist they thought they had found. The U-turn began, according to the New York Times, when the Republican condemned rather than lauding the violent attacks on the Capitol. The Proud Boys felt betrayed. How could her “holy emperor” stand against her and then evacuate the White House? Accusations were made via Telegram that Trump “instigated” the events in the Capitol but then “washed his hands off”.

In the weeks since the election, the right-wing extremists had hoped that Trump would make use of his executive powers, proclaim martial law and, if necessary, defend his presidency by force. His withdrawal was a task and a failure for her. “It is really important for all of us to acknowledge how much Trump betrayed his supporters this week,” the New York Times quoted a Telegram channel as saying after the Capitol storm. “We are nationalists first. Trump was only a man and ultimately an extremely weak one.”

“Ready to die for this man”

According to the newspaper report, the Proud Boys Telegram group even welcomed Biden into office. “At least this government is honest about its intentions,” it said, although there was still much frustration over the “fraud” by Biden’s predecessor. The right-wing extremists are now rearranging themselves and looking for a new role model if necessary. Since Donald Trump can no longer reach them directly without his Twitter and Facebook accounts, he is also losing value.

Other right-wing extremist groups had also turned their backs on Trump in recent weeks. “People were ready to die for this man, and he just threw them all under the bus. That’s the only shameful thing about events for the past 36 hours,” wrote Nick Fuentes, host of America First podcast and unofficial leader of the white nationalist Groyper army, on Twitter after Trump condemned the violence in Washington. Fellow activists from Fuentes and the Trump movements made similar posts.

According to the New York Times report, some Proud Boys now want to withdraw from political life and, above all, end their membership of a political party. They would encourage each other to concentrate their efforts on secessionist movements, i.e. on the secession from the US and the government, and local protests. “The special thing about the Proud Boys is that they are offline – that is, in the real world – but they know exactly how to use it for their online communication,” said Christopher Stewart from the Institute of Strategic Dialogues in London recently to ZDF . The right-wing extremists Donald Trump have now renounced online – offline they should not be any less dangerous for US society.


Plea in the Lübcke trial postponed: the verdict is delayed

Because of a legal advice from the court, the defense asked for a respite – and got it. The pleadings won’t be held for a week.

The defendant Stephan E. (right) with his lawyer Mustafa Kaplan Foto: Boris Roessler, Reuters

FRANKFURT/MAIN taz | Everyone was prepared. The main defendant Stephan E.’s plea in the trial for the murder of Walter Lübcke was to take place on Thursday, the penultimate stage before the judgment. But nothing came of it: Because of a legal advice from the court, the defense asked for a delay – and got it. Now the judgment has also been postponed, from January 26th to January 28th.

In the morning, the criminal division of the Frankfurt / Main Higher Regional Court had withdrawn for an hour for a consultation. Then judge Thomas Sagebiel gave the defendant Stephan E. the legal notice that in the event of a judgment against him, preventive detention could also be issued with reservations. This means that preventive detention, which would follow a life imprisonment, could not be imposed until the prison term.

The notice was actually a formality. A life imprisonment for the murder of Walter Lübcke on June 1, 2019 was already in the room for Stephan E.: His DNA was found at the crime scene. He also confessed to the act and justified it with hatred of Lübcke, because he had criticized opponents of a refugee accommodation at a citizens’ meeting. The federal prosecutor’s office had recently demanded life imprisonment including preventive detention for E. because of the murder.

Conviction for knife attack too?

The court’s tip could also mean that Stephan E. will be convicted of another act in addition to the murder of Walter Lübcke: a knife attack on the Iraqi refugee Ahmed I. in January 2016. This act is also indicted in the trial. Unlike the Lübcke murder, Stephan E. denies this act and the evidence is not entirely clear. A conviction of E. for this was previously considered uncertain.

As a rule, preventive detention is only imposed if the person concerned has committed several serious crimes and further crimes are to be feared. With the knife attack and the murder of Lübcke this would be the case. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office also wants Stephan E. to be convicted for the attack on Ahmed I.

However, the fact that the court only announces a “conditional” preventive detention could mean that Stephan E. will ultimately not be convicted of the knife attack. Sagebiel had previously announced that his Senate is “critical” of this charge.

Mustafa Kaplan, Stephan E.’s defense attorney, asked for a longer consultation time after the legal notice in order to possibly rework his plea. He criticized the fact that the notice was given “a few minutes” before his final lecture. And the court gave Kaplan a generous time to think it over: the plea was canceled and postponed for a whole week to January 21, the day of the trial ended after that.

This also shifts the rest of the program in the process. The co-defendant Markus H. is now to plead on January 26th. The verdict is due two days later. Some trial participants criticized the postponement: It would have been enough to give Stephan E.’s defense a longer consultation time on Thursday – and to start the plea in the afternoon. A spokesman for the Lübcke family called the delay a burden for relatives.

Alleged accomplices could get away with it

For the co-defendant Markus H., also a neo-Nazi, the day was a hint. The federal prosecutor had demanded a prison sentence of nine years and eight months for him because he had provided psychological aid to the murder: with joint shooting training and visits to right-wing demonstrations, he had encouraged Stephan E. in his murder plan. In his plea, the lawyer for the Lübcke family demanded that Markus H. be convicted as an accomplice for the murder: A number of indications suggest that he – as Stephan E. last claimed – was at the scene.

However, the court would also have to announce a conviction as an accomplice with a legal notice, since this differs from the indictment. The Lübcke lawyer Holger Matt also requested this information. But here the Senate remained silent on Thursday. The judges do not seem to see Markus H. as an accomplice at the moment.

The 44-year-old could get away lightly in the end: The court had already released Markus H. from custody in October 2020 and announced that against him – because of the contradicting statements by Stephan E. – there was no longer even an urgent suspicion of a crime Assistance in murder exists.


USA after storming the Capitol: Next round of lightning impeachment

The US Democrats are preparing the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The first big vote will take place on Wednesday.

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi wants to advance the impeachment process Foto: J. Scott Applewhite/ap

WASHINGTON dpa | After the riot of his supporters at the Capitol, the elected US President Donald Trump is heading for his second impeachment proceedings. In the US House of Representatives, the vote on the official opening of such impeachment proceedings against Trump is expected on Wednesday evening, German time. A majority is considered certain.

Individual Republican MPs also announced that they would vote to remove their party colleagues from office. The Democrats accuse Trump of “inciting a riot”.

In parallel, the Democrats had tried to get Trump’s immediate removal through an amendment to the constitution. Article 25 of the Constitution allows the President to be declared incapable of “exercising the rights and duties of office”. US Vice President Mike Pence, who should have initiated this together with members of the cabinet, officially rejected such a step on Tuesday evening (local time). Pence said it was not in the nation’s interest or in accordance with the Constitution and would set “a terrible precedent.”

In an exceptional political statement, the General Staff of the US Armed Forces sharply condemned the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters. “Freedom of expression and the right of assembly do not give anyone the right to violence, riot and insurrection,” wrote US Chief of Staff Mark Milley and his colleagues from the US military leadership in a joint statement.

Any act that is directed against the constitutional processes is “not only against our traditions, values, and our oath – it is against the law”. The General Staff reminded the military that they were bound by the law and that they would continue to defend the constitution.

Republicans also want impeachment

On January 20, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the future US President and will become the next commander in chief of the armed forces, the top generals emphasized. So it is in accordance with the constitution, and so states and courts have confirmed it and Congress officially certified it. Trump had stirred up his supporters that the election victory had allegedly been stolen from him. The US military leadership usually stays out of daily politics.

On Monday, the Democrats introduced a resolution indicting Trump in the House of Representatives. This Wednesday is to be voted on. If a majority is achieved, which is to be expected, the impeachment procedure would be officially opened.

The Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, individual Republican MPs also announced that they would vote for Trump’s impeachment. Among them: Senior Republican MP Liz Cheney, the daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, who is a member of the House of Representatives Republican leadership.

Trump rounded up the “mob” who stormed the Capitol and triggered the attack, she said. There has never been a “greater betrayal” by a president of his office and his oath on the constitution.

Several other Republican MPs also announced their support for Trump’s impeachment. The television channel CNN reported, citing Republican sources, that in the end up to 20 MPs from the party could join.

A decision in impeachment proceedings is made in the Senate, the other Congress Chamber. A two-thirds majority would be necessary there to actually condemn Trump in the end. Well over a dozen Republican senators would have to side with the Democrats. Individual Republicans in the Senate have openly opposed Trump, but so far have not agreed to the impeachment.


Trump’s last days in office: The coup attempt is not over

After four years of agitation, Pandora’s box is open. The coup leaders were encouraged by the ease with which the Capitol could be stormed.

She was encouraged by the ease with which the far right entered the Capitol Foto: Mike Theiler/reuters

The US President Donald Trump could resign – should he see an advantage for himself. He could be removed from office because of his apparent unsuitability – should Vice President Mike Pence and other remaining members of the government come to that late insight and act accordingly. He could be impeached – impeached – by the House of Representatives for a second time. Or he could be locked up somewhere in the White House with no phone, internet, or other means of communication.

Any one of these possibilities would be better than waiting, trembling and hoping. But not a single one of these measures and not even all of them together can fundamentally change anything about the fact that the remaining nine days until the planned handover to President-elect Joe Biden remain a time of maximum risk. Individuals such as the two newly elected Democratic Senators from Georgia are in danger, as is the constitutional order in the USA in the form of the inauguration on January 20th and peace in the world. Because in Iran, for example, the USA is currently launching one provocation after the other.

After four years of daily lies, agitation, undermining the rule of law, praising the “silent majority” and after countless small and large trials of strength on the streets in various parts of the United States, Pandora’s box is now wide open. January 6th – on which the US Congress and other elected institutions in the US states were simultaneously attacked – showed how confident the coup forces in the US have become. The ease with which they were able to carry out their illegal actions has encouraged and encouraged them to do more. The understanding that large parts of the American population signaled with a shrug of shoulders has also strengthened their backs.

The January 6 strikers weren’t naive. And they weren’t slipped or sent into something they couldn’t see. They were prepared and they brought their symbols with them. They carried the crosses and Jesus symbols of the evangelical fundamentalists and the Confederate flags of the slave-holding regime that was abolished 156 years ago in the US Congress. And they knew they had dozens of political supporters inside his two chambers.

The coup attempt in the US is not a past finished deal. It’s an ongoing process. The exit is open.


Five years of “Storming Connewitz”: Slow reconnaissance

Five years ago neo-Nazis attacked the Leipzig-Connewitz district. The processes involved are tough, open questions remain.

On January 11, 2016, the right wing rioted in Connewitz – the arrest was prompt Photo: Jan Woitas, dpa

LEIPZIG taz | The evening of January 11, 2016, will be remembered for a long time to Leipzig-Connewitz. Under cover of darkness, armed with slats and iron bars, masked and dressed in black, more than 200 neo-Nazis roam the left-wing alternative district and smash windows of bars, shops and snack bars, demolish houses and set fire to cars.

After a few minutes, the police arrive and arrest 200 suspects. What remains is a picture of devastation: some injuries, 113,000 euros in property damage and a shock that will stay with the residents of the district for a long time to come. It was the biggest neo-Nazi attack since the 1990s.

That was five years ago. Actually, a long time for law enforcement when the suspects were arrested and identified minutes after the attack. However, not all of the perpetrators have been convicted and the process is slow. Those already convicted have so far got away with relatively mild sentences.

124 parties have been convicted, 66 proceedings are pending

According to the Evangelical Press Service (epd), 124 defendants have been convicted of a particularly serious breach of the peace. Most of them received suspended sentences of between one and one and a half years.

Most recently, a co-organizer of various right-wing rock concerts was only sentenced to a fine of 900 euros in October. In contrast, there is still no trial date for 66 suspected attackers. A court spokesman told the epd that each judge would decide for himself when a trial would be opened.

For Juliane Nagel, a member of the Left Parliament, who has her own citizen’s office in Connewitz, the processes are “now pure waste”. The negotiations were “shortened with questionable deals” while the victims were still waiting for clarification. To date, there is no knowledge of the organizational structure of the attack.

Why didn’t the authorities stop the attack?

It is also unclear why the authorities did not prevent the attack on Connewitz. There were enough indications: mobilizations in chat groups and an assessment of the situation by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution indicated that right-wing extremists were approaching nationwide for the evening. In the letter from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which the Leipzig city magazine kreuzer published for the first time, it says: “This should contribute to a considerable increase in the potential for violent people in Leipzig, whose direct encounter with the political opponent – even violent – is to be feared.” Why The police claim that they did not know anything about the attack, is still unclear.

In addition, the neo-Nazis who were detained were well networked: through camaraderie, which has since been banned, the martial arts and hooligan scene to the right-wing terrorists of the Freital vigilante group. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution also confirmed the right-wing extremist references of some of the attackers. Investigations in the direction of right-wing extremist networks have not yet become known in the trials.

Also a prison officer among the perpetrators

Instead, they brought other scandals to light: The correctional officer Kersten H. is said to have been involved in the attack on Connewitz – and still worked for three years in a prison. Here he could also have had contact with accomplices.

In addition, the prospective lawyer Brian E. was convicted, who was able to start his legal clerkship at the Chemnitz District Court in 2018 despite the ongoing proceedings. Photos show E. with relevant neo-Nazi tattoos at an event of the right-wing extremist martial arts scene. However, the public prosecutor’s office stopped investigations at the beginning of 2020. Neither for Brian E., nor for the more than 200 other neo-Nazis who devastated Connewitz on January 11, 2016, the trials have so far had really serious consequences.

The wound in the district remains deep. Activists are planning a theater rally for the coming Saturday. The action is named after the statements of numerous attackers in court that they just cheated on the right-wing mob: “The longest last row in the world.”


Capitol and Reichstag: How the Right of America Learns – Culture

Interview by

Alex Rühle

How does the German right discuss the storming of the Capitol in Washington? What connections are there between Alt-Right in the USA and identities here with us? And what have right-wing extremist groups in Europe copied from America? Information about this is provided by David Anbich, who has been a member of the right-wing extremism office at Mit Another e. V. in Magdeburg does prevention work.


Lübcke trial: family lawyer names 30 evidence against Markus H. – politics

You have to go back to the very beginning, to that citizens’ meeting in Lohfelden in 2015. Where the Kassel District President Walter Lübcke stood in front of an angry crowd and tried to arouse understanding that the many refugees from Syria had to be accommodated somehow. He was yelled down. In his distress, Lübcke called out that anyone who did not respect the values ​​of the Basic Law could also leave Germany. This passage cost him his life four years later.

On June 1, 2019, he was shot by the neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst. Out of hate. Ernst had been at the citizens’ meeting, he confessed to the fact, there are traces of DNA. But whether Ernst also had help from his buddy Markus H., whether he knew about the crime, whether he was at the crime scene – all of that is uncertain. And it works like a thorn in the soul of the Lübcke family.

“After the NSU murders, people thought the state had woken up,” says the family lawyer Holger Matt. “But then came the citizens’ meeting in Lohfelden, then came the hatred and the mails against Walter Lübcke.” Matt takes a break from art: “But somehow nobody noticed.” Not the danger that this posed for the CDU politician, not the seriousness of the situation. Nobody had expected that in Germany for the first time since the 1920s a politician could be murdered by right-wing extremists.

The court found the evidence insufficient

It is the 41st day in the trial for the murder of Walter Lübcke, and the representative of the family is about to give the final lecture. He wants to show the court everything, really everything, that speaks against Markus H. for four hours. And the very same court that had ordered on October 1, 2020 to set Markus H. free. The Frankfurt Higher Regional Court considered the evidence against Markus H. to be insufficient. But the family believes that Markus H. was at the scene.

Two days before Christmas, the federal prosecutor’s office had demanded life imprisonment and preventive detention for the main defendant Ernst. For Markus H. she demanded nine years and eight months imprisonment for aiding and abetting murder. In the Ernst case, the outcome of the proceedings seems clear, but not in the case of Markus H. He could also walk out of court with a small sentence and as a free man.

Now it is the turn of the secondary prosecution with their pleadings: the Lübcke family, but also the Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed I, who, according to the prosecution, was stabbed in the back with a knife by Stephan Ernst. With lasting consequences.

Target practice, scouting visits, deleted conversation

Matt names 30 pieces of evidence that speak against Markus H.: from the shooting practice with Ernst when they shot at a target with the face of Angela Merkel, to two joint spying visits to Lübcke’s place of residence, to the fact that they both were on the day after the crime have deleted their secret Threema conversation. “What else do you need to prove that someone wants what happened here?” Asks Matt. “These are no coincidences.” He demands that Markus H. be sentenced as an accomplice.

Alexander Hoffmann, the lawyer for the second co-plaintiff, Ahmed I, says from the outset that his plea will probably not change the vote of the Senate majority, because it does not seem to see enough evidence to condemn Ernst for the knife attack. “I do this for my client,” says Hoffmann. So he speaks. Discusses that Ahmed I was attacked and stabbed with a knife by a cyclist near Stephan Ernst’s house on January 6, 2016.

Hoffmann tells how his client was afraid after the crime and wanted to move, but the investigators only insinuated that he wanted to gain advantages. He was supposed to be deported last year. For years no culprit could be found. Then, after the murder of Walter Lübcke, during the search of Stephan Ernst’s house, the investigators discovered a knife on which minimal traces of DNA were found – DNA that occurs frequently in Iraq and rarely in Europe.

Everything points to Ernst as the perpetrator in the case of Ahmed I. But he says it wasn’t him. And the forensic expert said that his experience told him that the perpetrator could only be serious, but that he could not prove it scientifically. Hoffmann says the evidence situation is “clearly onerous” for Ernst, and in other cases with similar evidence the judges easily came to a conviction.

The lawyer says that Ernst repeatedly feigned remorse

Hoffmann picks up where Ernst said himself. He had declared that on January 6th, 2016, out of anger about New Year’s Eve in Cologne, he rode his bike around the area and approached a foreigner: “You’d have to cut your neck.” Hoffmann says Stephan Ernst has repeatedly feigned repentance in court – since his early acts of violence. Lying has become part of his character and the courts will still believe him again and again. “If the court takes its task seriously, it must convict Stephan Ernst of the attempted murder of Ahmed I.”

And then Ahmed I himself speaks: Above all, he thanks the Federal Prosecutor’s Office for their empathy; it makes him feel accepted. Then he asks the court for justice to be done. “This is very important to me.”


ZDF correspondent on violence at the Capitol: “One said ‘You are next'”

Elmar Theveßen was standing with his ZDF team behind the Capitol when hundreds of Trump supporters pushed into the press area. He preferred not to trust the police.

Sad sight of what appears to be left of press freedom in the US Photo: José Luís Magana / ap

taz: Mr. Theveßen, on Wednesday you and your camera team were attacked by right-wing extremists at the Capitol in Washington. You were there to report on the demonstrations for ZDF. When did you realize that the situation was escalating?

Elmar Theveßen: We stood at the back of the Capitol, there is an asphalt area with power and video connections for TV reports. We stood there with colleagues from the Associated Press and some Asian media outlets. We had already reported for the day and saw the crowds coming. However, we initially decided that we would be safe where we are.

Then the police started to evacuate on the other side. You heard stun grenades and saw plumes of tear gas. Apparently that has pushed a few hundred or even a few thousand over to our side. And we were the first to stand in their way, so to speak. I noticed how suddenly a large crowd of protesters came up to us, some of them masked. They were apparently drunk and immediately took their anger out on us.

Have you been able to assign these attackers to specific groups?

Born in 1967, has headed the ZDF studio in Washington, DC since March 2019

I think I saw the Proud Boys badge, but it clearly included badges from militia groups. Large groups of militias had already been seen after the President’s request to march on Pennsylvania Avenue.

What happened then?

They shouted things like “enemies of the people”, “traitors”, “fake news”. They knocked down the metal barriers around us, snatched equipment, threw tripods on the floor and harassed us. We then started packing up. “You are next,” said one. We took it seriously, grabbed our backpacks and left. However, we were not followed and we did not have to run. My cameraman was pushed, I wasn’t physically attacked myself.

Have you ever experienced something similar?

Myself only in Germany at the beginning of the 90s, when I reported about the FAP, i.e. neo-Nazis who sometimes turned against the media. As deputy ZDF editor-in-chief, I noticed when colleagues, for example in Saxony or North Rhine-Westphalia, were attacked.

How did you and the other teams at the Capitol come to be exposed?

That surprised me, but in the end it wasn’t surprising either. In the summer at the “Black Lives Matter” protests we saw that the police also acted ruthlessly against media representatives. It makes no difference whether you can be recognized as a press. However, on Wednesday we came under the assumption that our location was within the security area, that we were separated from the demonstrators.

When we got there, it turned out that the police line was much closer to the Capitol than we thought. It was then already clear to me that we couldn’t rely on the police to help, given the sheer numbers of people. Incidentally, the police here do not see this as their job, but as that of the journalists. That’s why we always have protective equipment with us here at the ZDF studio. Impact-proof vests marked “Press”, goggles, reinforced baseball caps and helmets. However, we will readjust our security concept again with a view to Inauguration Day.

How did you yourself develop the mood towards the press? noticed in the US in the past two years?

As massively deteriorated. I was here in the 90s, when there were almost no attacks, neither verbally nor physically. Now I notice that the contempt for the media, especially CNN, MSNBC, but also others, is very great. Sometimes it’s just hate. At Trump events we have seen how Trump heated up the mood so much that if you stood there, you were strongly insulted or whistled. The feeling that the mood would get palpable one day was already there.

So you also find that Wednesday had events must be foreseen.

Absolutely. I have reported on extremism in every shape and color and I find it amazing how naive the security guards were here. You knew the clientele that would come. Is it indifference, carelessness – or even intent? There is no proof of that. The police chief says that they wanted to rely on de-escalation. This could of course have been a reaction to the disproportionate severity at BLM – but it was in any case wrong, naive and unprofessional.


Attacks on journalists at the Capitol: Just another enemy

The aggression of the far right against media representatives in Washington gives a glimpse of the legacy of the Trump era.

In front of the Capitol on Wednesday: violence against media equipment Foto: Jose Luis Magana / AP

Someone scratched “Murder the Media” in the paint on a door to the Capitol. “Murdered the Media”. Regardless of whether the person had a knife or took a bunch of keys: It takes time to cut something like this. So in the midst of the riot in Washington DC on Wednesday, someone actually took a few minutes to be completely alone to leave this message in the ivory-colored double door.

Such a saying may not hurt anyone at first, but it sums up what Trumpism leaves behind: a diffuse, violent hatred of “the media”. For those who invaded the seat of the US Congress on Wednesday, there is no difference between the political institutions and the networks and newspapers that portray them. For the right-wing extremists, these are both symbols of authority on which you can relish your anger and aggression.

This aggression also hit journalists several times on Wednesday. ZDF Correspondent Elmar Theveßen got into a situation in which right-wing extremists apparently surrounded him and other media representatives and stole equipment from them in order to violently destroy it. Transmission material and video phones had been smashed, the ZDF announced, threatening calls had been received in the control room.

A kind of pyre made of TV equipment is documented in several videos and photos. A Buzzfeed-Correspondent speaks of a “noose” that someone knotted from a camera cable and attached to a tree. A disturbing video of a Bloomberg reporter shows how a group of media representatives are violently pushed back. The heated men, one of whom waves the stand of his flag at the journalists, seem to accept injuries from them. They no longer exist as persons, only as an enemy concept.

You fear the press

There was no news of injured journalists until Thursday noon. A photojournalist from the public service broadcaster reports from far away Vancouver, Canada, that he was hit in the face by a Trump supporter.

Two video reporters from Washington Post were arrested briefly after the curfew began. According to their own information however, they were released immediately after identifying themselves.

It is not said that it always goes so smoothly. Wednesday showed that it only takes a few right-wing extremists to spread terror in the middle of the capital. The White Supremacists have learned that they can chase the press away. That the police don’t protect them.

The massive violence against the press is only partly the sheer pleasure of intimidating. Donald Trump has built up the press as an enemy over the last four years and right-wing extremist niche media have contributed to its spread. Trumpism fears the loss of control that a free press creates. And in contrast to liberal and pluralist movements, he also believes that there is no need for a free press. As long as there is sufficient media offerings on the internet that chew on the central messages of Trump’s fear ideology. Fear of migration, of “Antifa”, of women, of everything that is different. Already now enough reports can be clicked on Fox News and other right-wing channels, which insanely sense a plot of the left-wing “Antifa” behind the riots.

The group of violent right-wing extremists that Trump mobilized during his tenure will remain. It is not entirely clear how big it is. By acting within a larger but largely nonviolent demonstration and attacking a symbol of American strength, they have made themselves bigger than they are. But they’re big enough to be a threat. Not only, but also for the press. “Murder the Media” may be meant symbolically and not literally. But the danger is that fewer and fewer journalists want to try it out.