Drowning in a Police Wave – 1. May in Berlin
Thousands of people are dancing in the streets, drinking Caipirinha for € 3,5 and enjoying the gorgeous weather. I’m screaming „I LOVE Berlin“ every 5 minutes as I am totally amazed by my first 1. May in Berlin.
Unfortunately, this is only the Myfest, the peaceful counterpart of the traditionally rather violent demonstrations in Berlin. I remember watching the news, looking at burning cars and destroyed windows and people throwing rocks at the police. Left against right, everybody against the police and in the middle hundreds of injured people and arrests.
This is why the city has increased the number of policemen rapidly. 2006, there were only 5000, but this year there were around 7000. The reason for that are the three events that need to be secured: the so-called „Walpurgisnacht“, the night of 30. April to 1. May, the big demonstration on 1. May itself and the Myfest. With up to 36.000 participants, there is a high chance of violence and vandalism. But of course, this isn’t for free. The costs for the high number of policemen, many of them „borrowed“ from all over Germany, cost the city € 5 million in in 2010. The figures for this year aren’t published yet and I couldn’t find any for 2011, but because back then there were also around 7000 officers on duty, the costs probably stayed the same.
The question is: Is this really necessary? In the last years, the violence has apparently gone down significantly, which probably is due to the strategy of de-escalation rather than to the enormous police presence. The mayor of Friedrichshain/Kreuzberg Franz Schulz thinks that this year’s quite peaceful 1. May proves that it is time to start reducing the use of police force. Especially because it is the tax payers, who bear the costs for it.
Financing the security of that day isn’t the only problem though, but also the trash that covers the city afterwards – looking at the pictures of the day after, one is reminded of pictures of the Loveparade.
Since I am a student, I am not affected by the taxes yet, but looking at the current trend towards less violence I think that the use of police force should be changed accordingly.
Can’t wait for next year! 🙂