A nearly two-day fight between squatters and 1,000 police officers over access to a house for a routine fire inspection resulted in closed streets and schools in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district, disrupted traffic, and over 80 injured police officers.
The inspection was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Thursday. When talks between the lawyers of the squatters, the police, the town hall and the fire safety inspector led nowhere, the police broke down the door with a hammer, grinder and chainsaw.
At that moment, the occupants of the house immediately attacked, pouring extinguishing powder on the police and throwing paint and firecrackers at them. According to initial data, eight police officers were injured with fire extinguishing powder and another 13 suffered concussions due to the firecrackers explosions.
Initially, there were 350 police officers in action; then, reinforcements were called in, resulting in 1,000 police officers intervening.
The situation on Thursday was a repeat of Wednesday when barricades were burning in the street, stones and flammable bottles were flying through the air and squatters blocked the tram tracks. On Wednesday, 65 police officers were injured, two of them severely. Many others had to be treated in the hospital.
“The fact that it was not even worse is only thanks to the good protective measures of the police,” said Andreas Geisel, Minister of the Interior of Berlin. According to him, it was an extremely brutal attack. “This is open gangsterism,” he added.
Charges of attempted murder
In connection with Wednesday’s events, there are 12 preliminary investigations into the crimes of attempted manslaughter, serious injury, endangering safety and violence. “I expect the investigation to be thorough. That’s exactly why the police are gathering evidence,“ he said, adding, “We will not give in to violence.“
The complex at Rigaer Strasse 94 is considered one of the last symbols of the far-left scene in Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, students and members of radical anarchist groups occupied dilapidated houses in the eastern part of the city. As the popularity of these neighborhoods grew and real estate prices rose, many have applied to live there.
Title image: Police officers arrest a demonstrator after police stop a protest rally against the German government’s policy to battle the coronavirus pandemic in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)