I wish this video was in English, so non-German speakers could understand this. There is a world-class scandal happening in Germany at this moment: It is just absolutely outrageous how the life of whistleblower Gustl Mollath is being destroyed.

For seven years he has been held detained against his will – not in a regular prison, but in a Bavarian psychiatric ward, pretty much a mental asylum. I wonder how long a person can be in there and actually keep her sanity.

Why is he being detained? Because he spoke out against his ex-wife and her employer Hypo Vereinsbank, who were laundering money through Switzerland. In fact, physically driving money from Germany to Zurich for their clients. The thing is, in 2012, journalists uncovered an internal bank report from 2003 (!) that shows that Mollath was in fact right all along!

However, this was still not enough to set him free: The court ordered that Klaus Leipziger, the psychological expert whose first evaluation was the basis for the detention, re-evaluate the case. But the expert, who evaluated Mollath as insane without having ever personally met him, is now feeling ’negatively influenced’ and refuses to do his job – so Mollath remains in custody for another year!

There are numerous other egregious inconsistencies in this case, such as witnesses that have testified that the ex-wife unmistakenly threatened to destroy Mollath’s life and put him in the ‘loony bin’ if he talked about the money laundering. Or judge Otto Brixner that called the investigators of the (as we know today: valid) tax fraud claims and convinced them to drop the case because Mollath was supposedly insane. Then in court, the judge used the fact that there was no investigation as a proof for Mollath’s insanity. Brixner even admitted to the investigation committee that he had never fully read the 106-page defense.

Yet Mollath remains locked up. Beate Merk, the Bavarian minister of justice, continues to cover for all the atrocious mistakes in this case, justifying the fact that there were never any investigations of Mollath’s claims, and still keeps to her story that there were no mistakes made and she had never been untruthful about any detail of this case.

This is the only English article I could find on this so far. This case needs to get more international attention.

But as if the story has not been scandalous enough, a harmless tweet by a professor (and conservative (!) party member) that there might be an opportunity to ask Merk about Mollath’s release during one of her public appearances got her a visit by the police, suggesting she delete the tweet and stay away from the event.

Our government likes to criticize judicial processes in other countries, but we don’t need to look very far to see incredible injustice happening.

How shameful, Bavaria. How shameful, Germany.

[EDIT: German speakers might also appreciate this fantasticly sharp-tongued piece on Beate Merk who is responsible for Mollath’s continued imprisonment and the post-tweet police visit. Thanks, Christoph Süß at quer:  ]

police, firefighters and civil guards have joined the protests in spain, declaring ‘somos la policía del pueblo, no de los políticos’- we are the police of the people, not the politicians!

perhaps they were shocked by the police brutality in the last days/weeks, perhaps they’ve realized that they are part of the 99% too – in any case, this is great! 

best wishes out to the indignados in españa!

oh, and for the german(speaker)s: if you haven’t read it yet, check out the perspective of an german expat in spain on what the crisis means, a view that we don’t really get in our ‘everybody-but-us-is-lazy-and-deserves-austerity’ media coverage.

um nochmal das vor kurzem angesprochene thema der einschränkung der pressefreiheit durch die polizei aufzugreifen, hier nochmal eine gute reportage über die pressebehandlung beim castortransport 2011.

voller support für die amnesty kampagne ‘mehr verantwortung bei der polizei’, die z.b. fordern, dass ermittlungen gegen polizisten nicht von polizisten unternommen werden dürfen [z.b. wenn sie  beim lügen ertappt werden; aktuelles beispiel von polizeigewalt in AB]:

[UPDATE: interessanter bericht von kollegen vor ort]

quite disturbing to see the erosion of the freedom of the press in the last years, but it seems 2011 saw some more big hits to journalists rights being respected by the police.

most recently, new york reporters met “the fists of the law”, and at the castor protests happening now, police pepperspray and beat journalists, took away their protection gear or their entire equipment, and even allowed (ordered?) a police dog to bite a journalist!


what happened on friday at UC davis is fucking outrageous!! the important part is mostly in the first minute of the video. peaceful protesters who are just sitting on the ground are being pepper-sprayed for no reason at all. this is how UC davis professor nathan brown describes what happened next:

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

being arrested after pepper-sprayed is especially painful, because you can’t wash the stuff out of your eyes or try to reduce the pain – you’re in handcuffs. i don’t even know if the word agony sufficiently describes that situation.

the council of UC faculty associations condemned the police violence, calling it “unprovoked, disproportional and excessive”. they “are outraged that the administrations of UC campuses are using police brutality to suppress dissent, free speech and peaceful assembly”.

prof. brown’s open letter to the UC davis chancellor linda p.b. katehi calls for her immediate resignation, as the person directly responsible for this course of action. i fully support prof. brown. i’d even go a step further. she should be arrested and tried for this criminal assault (i’m not a lawyer, so i don’t know if this is actually possible. it’s simply an expression of my personal sense of justice).

i wouldn’t stop there. usually i see the police as victims/puppets of those that command them (usually politicians in the executive branch), and not as malignant people. but in this case, all i see is plain cold-hearted brutality. the cop, identified as john pike, doesn’t even try to steal himself away from the scene, like NYC’s tony boloney. this guy seems pretty proud of his actions. he should stand trial as well!

more background info, more pictures. the whole world is watching. now the whole world needs to get off its ass and do something!

john pike at work

yet again, the i am not moving movie is spot on.

[UPDATE: how awesome is this movement?! they managed to protest the chancellor with their presence in absolute silence as she exited the press conference, turning it into a walk of shame!]


In this photo from The New York Observer, Former Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis, sits in zip cuffs after being arrested today in conjunction with the Occupy Wall Street protests. Another photo of Lewis protesting can be found here.

Drew Grant of The Observer writes: “There is simply nothing more bizarre than looking at images of a man in police uniform arrested and handcuffed by people wearing lower-ranking NYPD garb.”

Lewis’ arrest was caputured on video:

Lewis knew his arrest was a possibility. In a rousing speech last night, Lewis criticized the NYPD and its use of force, along with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. An excerpt:

“You should, by law, only use force to protect someone’s life or to protect them from being bodily injured. If you’re not protecting somebody’s life or protecting them from bodily injury, there’s no need to use force. And the number one thing that they always have in their favor that they seldom use is negotiation – continue to talk, and talk and talk to people. You have nothing to lose by that. This bullrush–what happened last night is totally uncalled for when they did not use negotiation long enough.

“They complained about the park being dirty. Here they are worrying about dirty parks when people are starving to death, where people are freezing, where people are sleeping in subways and they’re concerned about a dirty park. That’s obnoxious, it’s arrogant, it’s ignorant, it’s disgusting.  

[The NYPD], they’re trying to get me arrested and I may disappear OK? But as soon as I’m let out of jail, I’ll be right back here and they’ll have to arrest me again. All the cops are, they’re just workers for the one percent and they don’t even realize they’re being exploited.”

Capt. Lewis truly understands what it means to protect and serve the people, and for that sir, I thank you. 

nice video from new york asking a good question: ‘where do we go from here?’

just received some sad news from oakland, where police seemed to have used tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs to clear out the protest camp.

in berlin, there was a group of 25-30 people spending the night out in front of the reichstag, even though they were not allowed to have tents. so in effect, this was the first occupation! and they also made it through another night till monday, and as far as i know, also till tuesday morning. thanks to all of you who stayed there in the night!

however, on tuesday the asamblea was informed that they will not be tolerated any longer on the reichstagswiese.  even individuals (i guess if they ‘look like’ they support #occupy) will be arrested and charged! so they had to move to an ‘alternative spot’ 350 m to the west. the bundestag will vote on the EFSF on wednesday, so it doesn’t seem like a huge coincidence that the government wants the protesters gone. the plan for tomorrow is to meet at the ‘alternative spot’ at 3pm to figure out how and where to do the asamblea at 5pm. it seems there also might be support camps in kreuzberg and friedrichshain. let’s hope there will be a livestream! so much for now, i’ll leave you with this interesting video manifesto (in german) and i will be back on saturday.

a week after the #occupy protest started in berlin, there was another march today! it wasn’t unregistered, so it wasn’t a march, but just a bunch of individuals who all just happened to go for a walk around the same time. :) on the way we passed a tourist bus, where some girls were chanting out the window “we – are – the 99%!” we met another group of people at brandenburger tor and then went over to the reichstagswiese. probably around 1000 people were there, and we held an asamblea and working groups. there was a great spirit in the air, and i met some really interesting people today.

we still do not have a camp in berlin, because tents are not tolerated anywhere. quite unbelievable considering the “sympathy” all kinds of politicians (including our chancellor) expressed in the press. mr. lammert, please allow this camp!

but even without tents, people have been meeting every day at 3pm at the reichstag, and held an asamblea at 5pm. on sunday (2nd protest day) the asamblea found a very creative way to deal with the problem that the berlin police does not accept public gatherings without a leader (or a leader-less movement). after the cop announced over the human mic that there needs to be a leader, it was suggested that everybody registers a demonstration, so everybody is a leader. facing a mountain of paperwork from 300 registrations, the police seemed to tolerate the meeting.

another very creative solution was found on friday, when the police threatened to fine everybody for breaking the assembly law. thanks to the awesome livestream, a viewer from hamburg helped out by telling them (via chat?) that if people stand 6 meters apart from each other, it is not an assembly according to the law. brilliant! what a great case of the internet allowing information to be shared in meaningful way! of course, with the human mic, the asamblea could still communicate with each other and it even drew a bunch of attention from the tourists!

i’d like to share another story from a dear friend of mine. he was also there last saturday and got carried away by the police. well, after the cop kneeled on his head and twisted his arm to get him to stand up (yeah i know, weird logic..). well, he wasn’t arrested, but taken away from the center and released further to the side of the area. when the cop let him go, he put the visor of this helmet up and said: “my name is <his full name>, and i am sorry.” really great to see that this guy still tried to be a human being. and i certainly didn’t want to overgeneralize the police behavior in my account of the first night, i’m sure most of them do their jobs without any malice, but there are some that really need some anger management courses. anyway, they should realize that they too are the 99%! i can’t wait until the first one takes a seat on the side of the movement.

my thoughts on the current situation:

i think we need more structure in the asamblea. moderators and a speaker list would make it fairer and more effective. currently it’s hard for people with lower voices or that are a little shy to get to speak. and yes, not enough women get to speak. a suggestion: a 2-3 people moderator team: 1-2 people keeping a list of people raising their hands and one person to show whose turn it is.

the movement needs to grow. we need to be the 99%. the crowd today was much more diverse (with even more “rather conservatively” clothed people today), but we should also grow in size. to do this, i think the “agreement” that organizations should not be very visible should also extend to the antifa (who stayed peaceful during this movement as far as i know). the movement needs to speak to a large group of people, and too many media images from the black block won’t be helpful (when they just started chanting today, that’s where most of the cameras ran to).

we need to think about a plan for the winter. we have to continue the asamblea and the working groups. and have weekly walks (‘spaziergänge’). and ideally some form of a publicly visible camp-like demonstration.

as i write this post, i am witnessing the longest occupation so far via livestream: about 25 people are still at the reichstag, and it seems like they are tolerated by the police. awesome, even without tents, i think we can call this an occupation camp now. :)

asamblea tomorrow at 5pm, working groups from 3pm. next march, october 29. join us!!

[EDIT: ’asamblea worldwide’ has become the unofficial protest song in berlin since SAT, english translation of the lyrics in description]

i shot this picture yesterday during the peaceful and inspiring assamblea in front of the reichstag, which boasts in huge letters: “dem deutschen volke” (for the german people).

what started as a highly inspiring day, with 10,000 berliners joining the (rather quickly organized) demonstration in solidarity with people worldwide, quickly turned ugly in the evening when the police violently interrupted the peaceful assamblea pictured above.

the assamblea (using the human mic technique learned from the #occupywallstreet movement) identified two working groups to plan for shelter and food for the camp, which were given an hour to discuss and report back to everybody. meanwhile, two tents and a beach shelter were set up onsite in the fashion of the acampada movement, as the nightly temperatures in berlin make necessary. groups of 15-20 policemen then entered the sitting crowd and went after the tents and camping mats (another good video), destroying them in the process.

the police then retreated, and the assamblea continued to discuss how to deal with the situation. it was announced that the reason behind police operation was that our presence was tolerated, but the tents were not (thx for making it clear after using force!). two tents were set up again, and then it was announced that those would be tolerated for now. then the food arrived and was distributed, hope soared that this was the beginning of a meaningful movement – so much solidarity was in the air. unfortunately, the police then moved in and took away the food of the protesters, without explaining their reasons for doing so.

the next police attack started after it was dark– using flood lights to heighten the unreal atmosphere. multiple groups of 15-20 policemen (usually 2-3 operating at the same time) would forcefully push themselves into the group of sitting demonstrators, and pull out anything that would help keep them warm: sleeping bags, (rescue) blankets, even simply the cardboard on which they sat. that’s when i witnessed brutal police violence against peaceful citizens: one person being brutally punched in the face, and two rows in front of me people were being peppersprayed for no apparent reason. i didn’t witness it myself, but heard that even batons were used to clear the way.

the problem was, that it was not clear to anybody, what the mission of this offensive was, not even giving people the chance to comply and heightening the perceived level of aggression. the fact that multiple groups were operating at the same time made it hard for the photographers to document what was going on, and since i haven’t yet found a good picture showing anything (one from the use of pepperspray in the afternoon), the police tactic to avoid being pictured seems to have worked out. other reports even say that some journalists were not allowed on the premises.

in the end, the police cleared the area with force, again pretty (unneccesarily) rough, people being punched and kicked, cops kneeling on young women, and the released people being shoved to the ground again. videos here and here.

afterwards, people weren’t even allowed to stand where the police initially suggested it would be OK for them, but were threatened so they move to brandenburger tor. about 100 people arrived there, and were swiflty surrounded by police again, who started arresting people that did not leave those premises. this was the end of the day for me.

so much on what happened from my perspective, now some thoughts:
as in new york, it seems that the mainstream media is not giving this much coverage in the beginning. the intellectual capacity of the author of a report in the “former newsmagazine” was especially disappointing, and i’m not going to link there. most reports pigeonholed the demonstration as an anti-bank protest, which is not very accurate. jacob jung made a great post on why it was more than that. [EDIT: also great in german: jule’s video, and i think this guy’s fundamental critique of money creation is spot on] i think the lesson from the various demonstrations around the world this year is that the protest needs to be sustained. just one ‘day of action’ will not show the urgency of the issue, and not get the attention that is needed. so, if this is going to become a real movement, these kinds of demonstrations need to continue and the need to be productive.

i’m still split on the issue whether this has to be in front of the symbolic reichstag building to show the hypocrisy in our political system that will not let citizens assemble in front of the national legislative assembly; or whether this confrontation with the police takes too much time that could better be spent discussing the reasons for their engagement in the movement or finding a way out of the mess we have gotten ourselves into. i’m slightly leaning towards the latter though.

the most ironic fact of the day was that the police was behaving illegally themselves on two accounts: 1. they were not wearing ID badges as they are legally obliged to do now in berlin, 2. police are not allowed to film a demonstration without proper reason. these were the same people that (sometimes even literally) kicked peaceful demonstrators out of the square in front of a symbolic building whose lit up façade reads “dem deutschen volke”. after all, it’s a constitutional basic right to assemble freely and demonstrate, and a demonstration needs to be within sight/earshot of those that the message should reach. this “bannmeile”, which stems from a law from 1920, is absolutely ridiculous. happy to see that the pirate party is going to ask the right questions, although i doubt that much will come of it.

what a sad day for a democracy that once wrote ‘freedom of assembly’ into its constitution. chapeau to the demonstrators who kept it peaceful on their side till the end.

[EDIT: i want to make clear that most policemen did their jobs more or less without malice against their fellow citizens. i don’t want to give them all a bad reputation. it’s just sad that those offenders will probably not see any consequences!]

[UPDATE: on sunday, there were around 400 people on the lawn in front of the reichstag again, discussing in an assamblea. it was not a ‘versammlung’ however, since those must have a leader (‘versammlungsleiter’) and need to be registered. it seems like people will continue this throughout the week, at 3pm infos usually via or facebook, livestream via castortv]

[UPDATE: two more great reports in english by victoria and flourlumps]

best comment on the police brutality incidents at the #occupywallst protests in new york, glad to hear a major media outlet call this one out. because this does happen every day, in the US but also in other “democratic” societies.

remember the berlin cop that kicked the head of a demonstrator lying on the ground in 2010? or the guy with his bike at the freiheit statt angst demo 2009, who was first punched by a cop, wrestled to the ground, arrested and charged with assault on a cop – because he was asking for the identification number of another cop. or what happened to the older retired guy bleeding out of his eyes in stuttgart last year?

last year, amnesty international reported on 15 detailed cases of police brutality in germany, some of which even ended in death. like oury jalloh, who burned to death in a prison cell in dessau, with his hands and feet tied to a flame-retardant bed, and none of the cops on duty were held responsible. in a society we’d like to call democratic or free, this simply cannot stand. if the “western governments” want to differentiate themselves from the totalitarian regimes we love to criticize/bomb for oppressing their people, they better start cleaning up their act at home.

it’s sad that an initially peaceful protest will only be newsworthy through police brutality or riots. the real news is, that there is a scent of change in the air during these crisis-ridden times. people realize that the systems are not working anymore, taking it to the streets and protesting their governments (essentially for failing them). and this change is happening bottom-up, with brave individuals at the forefront. in closing, one more great comment from o’donnell on “tony boloney”: