Intense pressure is being put on German radical social centres in Hamburg and Berlin in the wake of last month’s G20 protests, with Hamburg’s mayor threatening Rote Flora and a round the clock siege of Teppichfabrik, which has prompted a solidarity rally in the capital today.
The gathering, in front of the squatted centre in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district, starts at 6pm (7pm GMT) will bring some relief to the inhabitants, who have been surrounded by riot cops and private security for the last few days as part of a general State crackdown against radical spaces in the post-G20 environment. According to supporters:
Where there still was a beautiful view yesterday, there is a double line of fences (image below). All bushes are gone and on top of that a half riot squat with dogs and additional private securities pootle around in our front garden. Not a nice view. We have been living in the old Teppichfabrik (carpet factory) on the Stralauer peninsula for several months now. Since the cops realised this, we have been in a kind of state of siege. The electricity was cut off and only a few occupants have been allowed to enter the house — and only after they are being meticulously searched. The cops are not allowed to evict at the moment, but to fulfill the wishes of the building’s billionaire owner, the senate and their bosses they are doing everything the can to annoy us.
But it doesn’t work like that. We don’t care about their concept of a city for the rich. We took the 500-square meter loft for free and will continue to fight for a collective life that we determine ourselves. We want to live together here and fight for a space which is forthright for our utopia. In this city, which has tranformed over our collective lifetimes from dream into a reality of total capitalistic exploitation, our demand is not fitting into their concept.
And that is exactly the reason why we will continue our struggle. It was clear to us that we would face antagonism, also when we showed that the 24-hour eviction policy does not always apply. For us its more than just about a building. Its about to dream and fight for another reality. For us its about opening free spaces in which we have the possibility to develop a different kind of community.
In order for our home and this project will be open again for all people the cops first have to leave, after that the private securities and then the fences. We have to become many more people to breathe new live in the old building.
Visit us or also those responsible for this whole shit.
The worsening public tone around radical centres has been pumped up by liberal press such as Gaurdianesque broadsheet Der Tagesspiegel, which in a rampantly editorialised article on Teppichfabrik earlier this month accused the “militant leftist” squatters of happily disturbing the peace, even while noting that the residence, which has been open for months, was so quiet most locals didn’t know it existed.
Hamburg Mayor threatens radical spaces
Just days after the Teppichfabrik siege began, SDP Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz put himself squarely on the side of Germany’s howling rightist press in a pseudo hard-man interview with conservative local daily Hamburger Abendblatt.
The August 5th chat saw Scholz throw in lines about his “frayed patience” with Hamburg’s large radical milieu and his intent to crack down on Rote Flora as a local hub of anarchist activity. Plied with questions about extremist terror which seemingly attempted to link G20 with recent fundamentalist killing sprees, he declared of the local movement:
As it is now, it can not stay. That is why there must be changes, a clear distance from violence … For me it was clear when I became mayor: Hafenstraße, Rote Flora and Gängeviertel [the warren quarter, known for its contested creative community zone] are there. But I do not want any further such facilities. This I have enforced, partly in the conflict, see Münzviertel. We must agree: violence is not chic, it is terrible. The fact that Rote Flora has existed for nearly 30 years and changing governments have not changed it does not mean that in the next years everything will remain as it is. Something has to happen.
The hardening tone in Germany comes alongside a Europe-wide backlash which has seen radical squats threatened in Greece, Italy and Britain, where the community has been decimated by laws criminalising residential squatting.
Edited and expanded from an article submitted to Enough is Enough!