Thirty years on from when it was first occupied, the long-running Berlin squat and hausprojekt residence Rigaer94 is once again under threat from an aggressive eviction attempt involving security guards, squads of riot cops and construction crews.
R94, which has a mix of squatted and rented rooms, also features a squatted bar and an occupied youth centre on the ground floor which has brought it both prominence and aggressive attention from the authorities.
The latest siege started earlier this month on July 7th when a new eviction notice was put out following weeks of harassment under cover of the “Infection Protection Act”, followed on Thursday 9th by a major assault by more than 100 riot cops, who used neighbouring property and rooftops to get into the back yard.
The force’s ostensible reason was to check for forged documents, which saw them search several apartments, but it acted as an advance run for new self-declared “property manager” Tosrsten Luschnat and his cronies to make their own move.
The plan appears to have been to use raids to arrest as many people as possible, break open doors and make the place ready for the bailiffs. In the event, police and workmen, some with visible neonazi tattoos, evicted a ground floor flat during the raid.
On Friday and Saturday a security team rocked up to the front and with cops guarding the broken-open entrance, attacked a fourth floor flat in the building, using a construction tram to try and smash through a bricked-up door, but were repelled, deciding instead to junk everything on the ground floor.
Later in the evening a large solidarity demo arrived and stayed gathered outside the front of the house until late in the night, followed by a second rally on the Saturday. Luxury cars and walls are sprayed with R94 in a gentrified neighbourhood nearby, with supermarkets and a bank also targeted, and four people were temporarily arrested over the weekend.
The security team left on Sunday after a new door was installed, but this was just a precursor for another assault on Monday, when Luschnat came down at 8am to demand access to the building, accompanied by a lawyer, and was soon seen off. He was followed by a number of cops, security guards and building workers, who were stymied by the new door and militant resistance, and the forces withdrew at around 11am.
Later in the day a solidarity rally drew around 100 people in solidarity, with a speech being given at around 7pm. “Rigaer94 has again become a fortress,” the speaker said. “A fortress that has to withstand the rams of Berlin police and the sledgehammers of construction workers, but a fortress also for the ideas of freedom, self-determination and solidarity.
“We are happy to be here today after 30 years of Rigaer94, which were started by a completely different generation, and to get in touch with you. Many of us have been through a three-week siege of cops, construction workers and bailiffs in 2016, have conducted countless house searches and confrontations with state power.
“Some of us are new here and see ourselves for the first time in a situation like this, when it comes to defending a living space and at the same time an important social and political space. We are all aware of the constant danger of being exposed to such attacks. We regularly receive threats from Nazis, fanatical inner politicians and cops. But frankly, we didn’t expect the next attempt to get rid of us, the way it was in 2016. That the cops are trying to evacuate by inventing an owner of the house they send out so they don’t get their fingers dirty. Of course, this method is transparent and it is by no means a rarity in this city.
“This is a call to all of you, today, tomorrow and every day to translate the ideas of solidarity and freedom into action.
But this is also a call together to defend against all attacks that affect our projects — Liebig34, Syndicate, Mutiny, Potse — they are all being pushed to give way to the city of the rich, which we must prevent together to continue to live here, but also to continue together to be able to fight against state and capital. We are joining the words for the nationwide demo on August 1st: Get off the defensive! Stay away from our projects, stay away from our apartments!”
As of Wednesday, it appears that the police were attempting a different set of tactics — personal checks. Between 9am and 11am cops rushed up and down the street, stealing a banne and making referrals for up to 48 hours on the grounds Rigaer is a “danger area”. Things have seemingly been quieter heading into the weekend, but the squat remains vigilant.