Report from the Nordkiez - where the state of emergency became normality
There have been innumerable episodes in this neighbourhood. Our story is that of an area of constant unrest, which has been a place of autonomous struggle for the last 26 years. We continue writing this history by declaring that the episode of the „Dangerzone“ is over, it is time to move forward in our struggles against the state, capital and the entire apparatus of domination and exploitation which surrounds us.
Being deemed a „Dangerzone“ is the official trophy given to areas by the state, areas where the state's monopoly on violence is in concrete danger. The Nordkiez of Friedrichshain has deserved this title for a long time, and has been one of the secret favorites of Berlin. In October 2015, after a hot summer, it's time had come. At first the whole of Nordkiez was declared a Danger Zone (a.k.a. officially without rights) but soon even larger parts of Friedrichshain came under the same banner. Due to this state of emergency, thousands of frisks were taking place the following month. That meant daily chases, people being caught, sometimes beaten and being stripped down to their underwear.
The growing repression was accompanied by an increased will to organize and build up a resistance. New alliances were created between neighbours, and via different forms of actions the state of emergency increasingly came under attack from all angles. The structures and the know-how mainly came from the housing projects/squats. Militant actions, such as burning cars, also played an important role in building self-confidence and also in creating publicity.
There was also a critical analysis of the strategy copied from Hamburg which was employed as a first response to the repression, which was a distancing from every kind of dangerous potential and an attempt to get rid of the title, Danger Zone. Thus no symbol of helplessness/threatlessness appeared, such as the toilet brush. As such, the bourgeois media, always searching for shallow symbols/images, was forced to keep on using the well-known pictures of armoured cops looking up in fear, burning luxury cars and damaged new buildings. The „ZAD Dorfplatz“, a magazine, that appeared around the same time, had the self-confident title: „The rigaer street – danger-zone for cops“.
This statement wasn't taken seriously by everybody in the same way. There was then the so called contact/communication cop, who was beaten up strolling around the street alone. He was armed, but not armoured. This lesson was too much for the political leaders of the police. They sent a huge battalion, containing a SWAT team to the squat and housing project, Rigaer94, which was supposed to be the nest of the aggressors. The wave of raids against several Houses, which continued over the following days, lacked any strategy. Although the militants were „caught on the back foot“(1), the indignation of a broad base of normal people led to a massive distancing from the police action. The tension was at its climax.
Taking this great opportunity, the Assembly of the Nordkiez Housing Projects strategically took their time to call an assembly of the kiez (which now happens on a regular basis). Shortly after, on the 6th of February, a demonstration took place in Friedrichshain with 5000 people. This day was framed by wild actions with major damage against luxury buildings and cars. Also on the demo, there was a strong attack against a unit of police who were casually standing around, until they had to run with their tails between their legs. (2)
But as we expected, that was the climax of this episode. Luckily, it wasn't just the people who were getting tired after several months of siege and escalation but also the cops were running out of energy. After some time spring had come across the land, and with it came the first night were it was possible to step out onto the street in the nordkiez without seing a pig.
Now, this state of emergency is not at all over. There are still occasional police raids taking place. But the consistent state of siege has failed. The police operations were forced to a halt partly due to the enourmous amounts of resources they wasted and partly due to a growing disrespect towards the state. But the episode of the „dangerzone“ is also over because the state of emergency has become normality in the Nordkiez. For a long time now, news of ongoing frisks are no reason for excitement. The indignation has faded. Instead, the conciousness of the ongoing social war has been growing.
This tendency has to spread. The theoretical knowledge, grown in practice, has to become the base of the upcoming events. So do the new connections, the heightened attention and the confidence of the ones fighting. The next episode will be judged by how good it works in transforming these resources into permanent attacks. The aims are already clear.
- Improving focal points of lawlessness
„Concerning the claims about “focal points of lawlessness”, we wish to point out for those that are still clinging to the systemic dipole of legal – illegal, we are and we will continue to be advocates of illegality. We are against all those who are trying to present squats as mere places of gathering and harmless alternative entertainment.“
The projects / squats should play an active role in enlargening these focal points of lawlessness in their surroundings. Focal points of lawlessness have to be understood as a concept against the persistent state of emergency that is used against the poor, homeless, criminalized and other fighters.
- Stop gentrification and the growing cost of living
Connected to the fight for focal points of lawlessness but more concrete, is the will of many here to fight the states policy of making the neighborhood more expensive. The spokesman of the police was right when he said that only gentrification could pacify the neighborhood.
„Fight gentrification“ is a widespread slogan. When those who give it out are not able and willing to act, they produce hopelessness. But if there are defined targets, upon which work is being made, they give hope. Those will lead to the intensification of the attacks.
Thats why the next step in the Nordkiez will be to stop the construction of an expensive new living and commercial building. Most of the free spaces have already beenbought up and the anger about this commercialization and therefore the resistance against it, both have a broad base. But until now, it has stopped at the point of theory and symbolism. Now, after this intense phase of struggle, it's time to take a step forward. The construction site of the Caree Sama-Riga (with an investment value of 37 million Euro)has come into focus. The large space, currently with an abandoned buildingon it, is just a few metres away from the area of Rigaerstrasse with most of the squats/housing projects. There have already been posters(3), texts and direct actions(4), thatcall for resistance against this project.
-Prevent evictions, beat back the fascist attacks, revenge for raids
Some housing projects/squats are still threatened with eviction. It is essential for everyone in this conflict who doesn't want to lose the fight against the state and the rich, to defend their own structures. The houses must realize their essential role in the events of the last months andwith this, have a critical analysis of their own positionand clearly communicate their desire to attack. Those who are not able to do so, must show it. Then there will be a solid base from which we can react with force, when cops and nazis attack.
(4) The advertising-banner of the investor was destroyed and the office of the green-washing-agency got smashed