Your appeal hearing will take place on February 10th. What exactly are you being accused of?
In May 2017 the Heidelberg AfD invited to an election campaign event in the public rooms of the city library – in the hall named after the Jewish poet Hilde Domin, of all places. I was in the foyer with many others for a while before the admission. After Rüdiger Klos, member of the state parliament, noticed that I was one of the interested parties, he banned me from the house. With reference to the public of the gathering and the venue, I refused to leave and was then carried out by the police. A little later I received a penalty order for trespassing, which was then confirmed in a hearing before the local court.
Does that mean you were only carried out of the building because of your known anti-fascist stance?
Yes. The court confirmed my legal opinion that it was a public meeting that must also be accessible to critics of the AfD. However, this basic right to freedom of assembly does not apply to me as a “well-known ringleader of the Heidelberg Left” if it is right-wing events. The justification given by the judge was that my mere presence could incite other leftists to prevent the gathering. It is not necessary for me to be active in any way.
At the first trial date, there were extensive admission controls and a strong police presence. Is this common practice in Heidelberg?
No, that was last seen in this form in Heidelberg in the 1970s. Visitors had to be searched several times and submit their IDs. Armed police officers were posted between me and the audience. The signal was abundantly clear: this person is dangerous! The judgment was then largely verbatim with the court police order, with which these measures were justified. One could put it pointedly: the police were allowed to dictate the wording of the judgment before the start of the negotiations.
The fact that the same measures are ordered during the appeal hearing should not necessarily be a good sign.
That is also the aspect of judgment that I find really threatening, and not just for me. This is no longer about any act that could be lawful or illegal, not even about belonging to an unpopular political group. It is about the judicial determination of a “politically dangerous person”, and on this basis I am denied the exercise of fundamental rights such as the right to freedom of assembly.
Otherwise, too, the first procedure caused astonishment. What was that?
Just a few days before the hearing, the judge was completely unexpectedly changed. Only after the verdict did we find out that the new chairman was the daughter-in-law of AfD politician Albrecht Glaser, who repeatedly drew attention to himself through racist attacks. Since then, the judge Glaser has been responsible for me and covers me with a whole series of really absurd penalty orders that are still pending trial.
Unions and the Red Aid are demanding your acquittal. Is there any further support?
The VVN is also very committed to me, as is the action committee of those previously affected by the radical decree. On Tuesday, a third of the municipal councils passed a declaration of solidarity. In fact, the verdict here in Heidelberg caused outrage among many people. It is about several things: There is the abuse of public spaces by the AfD, which on the other hand shies away from any real public. There is the mockery of the memory of the writer Hilde Domin. And finally there is the grotesque caricature that the state security and court are drafting of me and trying to legally establish. Heidelberg is not a big city. Many people know me and know that the image of the “demagogue who is dangerous to the public” has precious little to do with me.