Note: English is not our native language, the following is translated mostly with help from the DeepL Translator. If you find errors (or some funky german style sentence structure) feel free to write us.
Sent to us by INPUT Ulm, which held this text in a slightly shortened version yesterday (13.06.2020) at the Black Lives Matter rally in Ulm.
Structural racist violence – police
Right now it is once again a topic: racism in the American police. A man was brutalized and ultimately suffocated by several white police officers. Our thoughts are with George’s relatives and the black community during these difficult days. The latter is justifiably taking to the streets and experiencing, as always, enormous violence and brutality at the hands of the police. But there are some things we are fed up with – and here are some clear statements: Yes, militant and non-peaceful forms of protest are okay! Change has to be fought for and that is what people are taking to the streets for. Who now asks for pacifism, after another person was murdered because of his skin color, has not quite understood what is going on. Queers*, workers* and women* have also fought hard for progress, protests have been bludgeoned by the state and one or the other house has been on fire. Equality and the end of discrimination are not given to you as a gift, having to fight for it is unfortunately part of this world. Therefore, no matter in which form, absolute support for the current protests against racism. But not only the miserable debate to peaceful protest we do not want here, also the constant pointing to problems in America must have an end. There is also racism and violence by the police and other authorities in Germany. The situation in Germany and those affected and murdered are to be highlighted separately, now to the focus of this text:
Violence by police officers.
To make it clear once again: Violence by the police can affect any of us, BUT certain groups in our society are more affected by it, including for example People of Color, who are denied a sense of belonging. The violence they experience on a daily basis is racism, a fundamental form of discrimination that does not only come from the police.
Now the question should be asked: What is violence by the police? This begins quite simply with their power. The police can carry out controls, arrest people, lock them up, harm them physically – without being prosecuted for it. An exercise of power and thus of violence goes hand in hand with the mere existence of a state authority and executive force. This already answers the question of the headline: Yes, ALL COPS. Even the police officer who has not yet shot or deported anyone. The authoritarian principle, the existence of this power structure and the fact that Germany has an implementing apparatus, a thug squad of the state, is a form of violence. Thus, there are no “good cops” and also no innocent people, even if further described acts were not committed by them.
Moreover, police tactics are also a form of violence. Be it racial profiling or even just constant patrols in the so-called “problem neighborhoods” – this interferes with the lives of certain groups of people, they experience state control, a restriction in their freedom and thus an encroachment on their person. De facto violence. This can also occur through simple presence, since wearing a uniform is symbolized in our upbringing as something powerful, which at the same time can pose a threat.
But this can come to a head, so it comes gladly to the control of a person, who sometimes no, sometimes a harmless reason supplied, to be considered as suspicious. In this case they are temporarily detained, they cannot escape the control if the police have come up with a reason for it. In other words, people can be stopped and controlled by the police at any time. Now for the first time this seems harmless. Only on the one hand, this completely disregards privacy and on the other hand, this “brief intervention” has a completely different dimension if it happens on a daily basis, for example, because of the color of one’s skin.
The naive hope “I have nothing to hide anyway” still does not protect you: Even without a finding, the police can take people away if there is a suspicion. Especially in the case of drug suspicion (due to racist prejudices, for example), people then find themselves at a police station, where they are quickly told “Please undress completely and leave your clothes here”. Now a position of power is exhausted to the end: humiliated, one* stands naked in front of the policemen* and is allowed to bend over. Also on young people a control is now carried out, which is to be equated with sexual violence. This is not done in consensus and is carried out by a person who, due to his position of power, is allowed to determine over another’s body, without legal consequences. The only consideration is the biological sex of the criminalized, which can mean an additional even more severe experience of discrimination for Tras* people-of-color. This, incidentally, is what the feminist concept of intersectionalism attempts to capture.
If one defends oneself or is classified as a danger due to racist attitudes, even more forms of police violence accompany it: classic physical violence that can range from minor injuries to death with punches, kicks, pepper spray, batons, and arresting grips at the police station, at home, or on the street. Recent examples motivated by racism are clear. They are not isolated incidents.
But the incredible violence and power through repression can also affect people. Be it the counter-charges, be it fines or the deprivation of liberty as the worst sentence in Germany. All this can drive people into financial or psychological ruin. Outside control and confinement, prison inmates experience a state power that has profound consequences.
This makes it possible to see: The violence that emanates from the German police is all-encompassing. Who it hits is often determined by forms of discrimination, which are particularly common in authoritarian professions, since these professions explicitly attract people who feel superior to others in their self-confidence and exercise of power, which they also like to refer to their origin. The problem of racism cannot be removed from German authorities, because enemy images and authoritarian characters of police officers are only one part of the problem. Another part is power. Police officers are allowed to control our bodies and carry weapons in order to always be superior to us. This has to end, it is the only way to protect people from police violence. We can’t fight people’s racism if those people are superior to us. The problem is not one cop, the problem is everyone.
Text in modified form by Feminist Antifascist Collective – FAK
Finally, an appeal:
It’s great that so many people are interested in this issue. What is important now is to create and support long-term structures. Organize or join antiracist structures like Didf and Black Lives Matter or antifascist structures like the Kollektiv.26.