PEGIDA Munich – photographer handcuffed

Once again I visited PEGIDA Munich to cover neo-nazi participants and capture footage for my long-term documentary about the Munich branch of the the movement founded a little more than a year ago in Dresden.
[Cover picture: http://www.preiselbauer.de/]

“Flagging”

As I entered the PEGIDA cage for the first five minutes I was able to just walk around, count participants take some wide-angle shots of the (shrinking) mass of -as they call themselves-“Spaziergänger” [roughly: hikers].  Only minutes later Rolf H. spotted me. Famous from my recently published video “Ich hab eine Fahne!” – “I have a flag”:

Rolf H. first started bothering me, walked around for minutes and then spotted a colleague and me. As we were both filming – here is the video of him bothering us and getting close-up to our cameras:

As this happened a Munich Police Departement press official approached and explained to Rolf H. that his actions were unlawful. Mr H. reaction was to block me from taking pictures few meters further away and explain loudly to the press official that I am an opponent and have to leave. In the end I stayed.

PEGIDA March Blocked 3 Times

As the last two weeks Munich citizens decided to try to block PEGIDA Munich. All three roadblocks were pushed to one side of the street. Only at the first roadblock Munich riot police officers showed their usual behavior of just brutally pulling and/or beating counter protest off the streets. At the second roadblock a Police Chief asked people to remove themselves off the street in a almost funny way – telling them that they might catch a cold sitting on the streets when the weather is this bad. Wen the third roadblock happened coordination by Munich Police Departement did not work at all. An officer was constantly telling demonstrators to remove themselves to their right side. At the same time on the counter protests right side USK riot police lined up and pushed everybody back as they tried to actually leave the roadblock. As PEGIDA passed by the third roadblock I witnessed Petra K. – known from Hooligan structures and neo-nazi marches, attacked counter-protest before – how she was openly speaking about her wish to violently attack antifacist activists:

“…einen Tritt in die Fresse … batz”
[roughly: “… kick them in the face … batz …”

Alongside with that she moved her leg as if she was kicking someone.

No violent neo-nazis at PEGIDA?

Photographer Handcuffed

As PEGIDA re-entered the “cage” a group of photographers tried to follow – police officers instructed us that it has to be enough to document the situation from outside the PEGIDA cage. As all photographers in the group have been documenting PEGIDA on a long-term basis and this has happened before we tried to discuss with the police officers and get them to call the press official. Shortly after asking for this the officers stopped reacting to anything asked and started closing the cage. I tried to document the situation. One official then ran after me tried to grab my camera shouting something like:

“… jetzt nehma dem alles weg…”
[roughly: “…now we will take all his stuff away…”

After catching up with me he explained to me that taking pictures of police officers at all is illegal. At the same time a colleague was taken into custody. Supposedly he offended police officers. He was then handcuffed which is not usual treatment for somebody offending someone else on a demonstration. As I documented the situation riot police officers issued an expulsion against me. This is also the reason why I was not able to document neo-nazis gathering in front of the Feldherrnhalle once again.

 

My Videoreport from Monday Evening

 

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Protests against 25 Years of German Unity Ceremony – “Freedom” in Frankfurt

On the 3rd of October 2015 the unification of Eastern- and Western-Germany had 25th anniversary. This year the city of Frankfurt hosted a “citizens’ fair” at the riversides of the Main and in the inner city. A ceremony was held many politicians – as for example chancellor Merkel – attended. The motto of the day was “Grenzen überwinden!” [“Overcome borders!”]. Leftwing political groups mobilized against the citizens’ fair, as in their opinion there is no reason to celebrate Germany – especially as long as refugees are dying on their way to Europe and border fences exist. Equally their motto was “Grenzen Überwinden – Deutschland abschaffen!” [Overcome borders – abolish Germany!] – but talking about European borders:  http://grenzenueberwinden.de/

As announced protest on the 3rd of October was de-central and colorful.
(On the 2nd of October there was a demonstration in Frankfurt colleagues covered: http://www.beobachternews.de/2015/10/03/lautstarke-vorabenddemo/)

The citizens’ fair started off with speeches by politicians, inhabitants and members of the church. Then politicians arrived at the Alte Oper where the first protest action therefore took place. My colleagues and I wanted to cover the arriving politicians – so we had to go through a security check. As twittered we got bracelets saying “Freiheit” [“Freedom”] after we had to throw away our water and got scanned.

Inside the “Freedom-bracelet” area police would not let us pass after 30 meters. A very unfriendly press representative then came up to us, shouted at us for not being accredited and being ten minutes late for the on-site accreditation. So the day of “Freedom” started. We got kicked out of the “High-security-area”.

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At the same time single groups of people where controlled for “looking like lefties” and from the video data of the demonstration the night before. Police forces had portrait pictures of every participant of the demonstration on their smartphones and banned those from the citizens’ fair. This continued all day.

Just then first creative protestors arrived. A group clothed in fur coat and military uniforms holding up signs asking for an expansion of Germany, higher border fences and less taxes for the rich marched towards the “high-security-area” playing “The Internationale” in german. Riot police forces immediately walked up to them and kept them from getting closer. Impressions of the group:

Minutes later protestors with pink umbrellas, a transparent saying “Nie wieder Deutschland!” arrived at the Alte Oper and threw confetti and flyers at people trying to get to the security area closer to the politicians. Riot police immediately stepped up to keep them from getting closer:

The next protest action was supposed to take place at the river Main. Protestors spilled bad smelling fluid in front of the information booth of the police Frankfurt and handed out flyers explaining the reasons for protest against the citizens’ fair. Riot police surrounded about 40 activists and took them in custody after one hour of standing around.

Meanwhile at the Rossmarkt police kept controlling people that “look like lefties”. My colleagues and me got held back and checked on. Right next to the area the government set up tents  explaining their work and also hosting a ceremony – that was later loudly disturbed – two young men of whom one was only sixteen years old were handcuffed by police forces and got searched:

I talked to the men, the reason was once again they looked suspicious and were not happy about police controlling them.

Minutes later in the tent of the Bundesrat a loud, colorful and creative action started. Activists entered a tent – a ceremony was held in – and got pushed out just minutes later by riot police forces. Impressions:

Amongst the “BFE” – Hesse riot police – officers was one carrying a “less lethal” weapon: http://www.heckler-koch.com/de/produkte/militaer/40-mm-systeme/hk169/hk169/produktbeschreibung.html
I have seen officers of the BFE Hesse carrying this for several times – officers got very aggressive as soon as I tried to document the weapon before. At the G7 I was told for example: “If you take a picture now your freedom of press ends here.” [roughly translated]. At W-OW in Frankfurt a colleague was pushed over by officers as he was taking a picture of the multifunctional weapon.

Just half an hour later protestors wrapped themselves in plastic and attached posters to themselves. As police pushed them away they used duck tape that was printed on to show their protest:

During the late after noon two more “attacks” with smelly fluid were conducted. One on the information booth of the police Frankfurt again and one on the tent of the federal government. The tent had to be closed for an hour and the carpet had to be exchanged.

Parallel to all of this the party “Die Partei” held a demonstration that stayed completely calm and two concerts.

All in all protest was peaceful – just Frankfurt police forces showed how “Freedom” looks like: Scanning demonstrators and supplying all officers with portraits and banning them from a fair for intentionally all citizens, filming journalists just because they missed to accredit, officers with body cameras and snipers on roofs.

All pictures available for licensure as usual.