Berlin squatted community space under attack

Koepi 137

The Köpi, a legalised squat and cultural center in Berlin, has been under attack from political and police forces for some time - as are many other such spaces in Berlin's "New Mitte."

Now, tactics of police intimidation are being used in an attempt to shut down the centre's social events and political organizing, particularly around the upcoming G8 summit.

Following is a statement from the Köpi, a legalized squat in Berlin currently home to about sixty people and a number of autonomous political and cultural projects.:

"You've sold the rest of the city - Köpi is still ours!"

For over 17 years a community space has existed at Köpenicker Str. 137, a non-commercial space that is open for political and cultural projects of all kinds. But the idea that people both can and want to organize themselves without any economic interest is apparently beyond the imagination of some of the politicians in charge of this city, who instead seem to consider this space a threat.

During the night from January 12th-13th, 2007, the main courtyard of the Köpi, as well as some of its rooms, was invaded [by the police]. The reason given for the intrusion was not "disruption of the peace" or anything similar, but was related to a license to sell drinks [at the Köpi bar]. The Köpi is not the first target in [the neighborhood of] Mitte to be removed from the picture of the new, dressed-up city center in this way. The authorities of this area have also used this strategy against projects like Subversiv, Schokoladen, the Open Space, and numerous others.

According to diverse news sources on January 13th, 2007 (rbb online, Tagesspiegel, Polizeiticker) the Office of Commerce asked for help from the LKA [Office of Criminal Investigation] to close this "illegal Diskothek."

During their search for the people in charge [of the Köpi], [the police] took down the information of the twelve people present and threw them out of the room. What's more, they seized the cash box and the huge "income" of 18 Euros it held. The fact that there was so little money in the cash box of an "illegal disco" on a Friday night in Berlin Mitte, and that there were only twelve people present, shows how ridiculous this effort was.

They also filmed the rooms that they had access to, and took some posters, flyers, stickers and various materials that lay out for anyone to take for free. Independent witnesses were not allowed to be present during this investigation, and the officials wandered the rooms unregulated for at least twenty minutes. This massive intrusion in the community space is also thought to be an attempt at intimidation, related to the upcoming G8 summit. The task force was especially diligent in this regard, and even scratched stickers off the walls with their knives.

During the investigation of the rooms, it was not possible to get into the courtyard or the community space. Nevertheless, more and more people gathered [outside], so that around 30 minutes after the arrival of the police there were about 100 people present. After the people tried several times to get into the Köpi, there were some small altercations. The police mission was prematurely broken up, which was echoed loudly in the press as being solely due to the "inexperience of the operation's leader."

After a short moment of shock and a pause for breath, there was a spontaneous occupation of the large intersection in front of the Köpi. It was followed a loud and determined demonstration throughout [the neighboring district of] Kreuzberg, which was dispersed by the cops at the intersection of Oranienstraße and Skalitzer Straße. According to reports so far, there were no injuries and no arrests.

Since then, (civil) police cars have patrolled the street in front of the Köpi. During the night from January 13th-14th a van parked for several hours in front of the Köpi, filming it.

On Monday, January 15th, around 30 people visited the Office of Commerce for Mitte, to obtain a comment on the incident. The office manager explained that they had followed "a tip" on an illegal bar. He explained further that the circumstances had been sufficiently clarified, and the Office of Commerce had "no further need to investigate." As for the results of the investigation, he couldn't (or didn't want to) say anything at this time.

At the BVV Mitte on Thursday, January 18th, the Green party will hold an inquiry on the police action, although it will only be restricted to questions of police tactics and management.

We will not allow ourselves to be intimidated by past or future police actions.

We have fought for this space, and we will not let it be taken from us - and not just the Köpi!

[translated from the German, available at http://koepi.squat.net]

Posted By

erin wiegand
Jan 19 2007 23:12

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