Organized gangs, many of them made up of foreigners, have targeted children in Halle’s schools for years, with the police recording hundreds of such cases. However, there is now a citizens’ initiative in the German city that has begun patrolling the area, and students are arming themselves for self-defense purposes as they lose faith in the police to protect the young victims.
The city, located in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, has seen highly troubling statistics emerge regarding the robbery of students, with Die Welt reporting that in just a matter of two years, there have been 203 such robbery offenses with 274 suspects.
The police noted that 40 percent of suspects have a migration background, and the proportion of those robberies committed by intensive offenders features a “significantly higher” share of foreigners, according to police, although no exact figures were given.
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Although the police have promised to be more present at schools, as parents raised concerns about their children being assaulted or being constantly on watch for gangs, the attacks have continued virtually uninterrupted.
Parents describe a situation bordering on extreme desperation, with one woman telling Die Welt outside the school that her 13-year-old son had already been robbed three times. Another mother told the paper that her son was blackmailed for money. Both mothers have now joined the “Safe Schools in Halle” initiative, which was formed earlier this month.
There are also a number of court cases involving dangerous bodily harm and threats. The problem has become so widespread that the police in the city have set up a special investigative unit exclusively focused on these crimes.
The Saxony-Anhalt Interior Ministry reports that the robberies are brutal, featuring suspects punching, pushing and kicking their young victims. However, weapons are also being utilized by the attackers, including “pepper spray, knives, or blank guns.”
The attacks have been on the radar of the interior ministry for months, and they began to fit a pattern that indicated an organized and consistent form of attack. The perpetrators would approach victims, demand cash, clothes and smartphones, and then utilize violence to proceed with the robbery.
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The interior ministry noted that there is a threat of “high levels of violence.”
Parents have become so desperate that they have organized a citizens’ defense initiative, with the initiative describing a “broken police force” that has been unable to secure the schools for their children, especially during school breaks and after the school day ends when students are walking home.
The initiative says it will not resort to violence and will operate within the law, which likely means it will partake in patrols and observation.
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One mother said: “It’s just about being present and showing that we protect our children.”
However, Die Welt reported that many students are arming themselves with pepper spray while others even now carry knives, according to one student the paper spoke with.
There are also extreme threats some students are dealing with, including perpetrators taking their IDs, taking photographs, and stating they will harm their families if they speak to the police.
Trends seen in other Western countries, such as France, indicate that the police may take more interest in these citizens’ initiatives and students participating in self-defense than the actual robberies themselves. For example, an identitarian group in France, which protested this month in front of the home of a foreign suspect accused of brutally raping a French woman into a month-long coma, were all arrested during their demonstration and accused by the prosecutor of promoting “self-defense.”