Meeting places and commercial establishments of migrants are also targets not only of social prejudice, but also of police stigmatization. In Leipzig, this is exemplified by Eisenbahnstraße, where a bustle of migrant life can be observed in vegetable and grocery stores, restaurants and shisha bars. It is no coincidence that the Saxon Ministry of the Interior has set up a “no-weapons zone” there; the street is a negative projection surface for right-wingers of all stripes. Shisha bars in particular are seen in public discourse as places of “criminal foreign” networks and “dubious businessmen*.”
Since 2017, shisha bars have increasingly been the target of police measures, especially in Berlin, Frankfurt am Main and the Ruhr region. Many bar operators there can tell you a thing or two about martial controls without sufficient danger prognosis and without noteworthy results. In an article in the TAZ, the lawyer Erkan Zünbül estimates that raids in these bars are “more militaristic in terms of presence than commercial law. A recent example of police action in the Leipzig shisha bar Majestic also points to possible racist actions by the police.
Bourgeois Crown Witnesses
On a warm May evening, the retreat room for migrants is also occupied by a larger group of German guests. They are now turning to the public for help. Anna and Lisa, among others, are sitting in front of us. They asked for an interview – “in a neutral place”. The two middle-aged women are still visibly upset. It’s about a Corona control in a shisha bar.
“Three officers were attacked and injured by bar patrons. Only after a warning shot the attackers sought the distance” was the headline of the nationwide press. According to several witnesses, however, the facts of the case were different from those described by the police.
What had happened? “We were sitting with a larger group in front of the shisha bar. When a downpour came down, we sought shelter in the bar – also in the neighboring gastro businesses, the guests did the same” says Anna to la-presse.org.
“After a good half hour, officials poured into the bar without a word. The metallic clacking of telescopic batons could be heard. It was eerie. The door was blocked from the inside by the officers” adds Lisa.
In front of the bar, employees of the pub seek communication with officials. In the dialogue with an employee of the public order office it turns out that it should be about offences against the Corona protection order – it is spoken about that the guests are cashed up, should leave the restaurant and deliver their personal data outside.
Meanwhile, the situation in the bar comes to a head. Several times, “Kanackenpack, Dreckskanacken and drug dealers” are said to have been heard from various officers. The police do not provide any information about the reason for the police action and what will happen now. When a guest asks the officers to calmly clarify the situation with the staff, because the “guests are starting to get scared,” he is abruptly beaten by a police officer.
With sniffer dogs against Corona
Until this moment, the scenery seemed relaxed. About 15 young women and men of a group, professionally vaccinated, sit in the fluffy sofas. Shishas break in the ensuing scuffle. Glowing coal lands on a sofa. Smoke and panic ensue. When a young woman speaks up to a police officer, he threatens to hit her in the head. A co-worker points out the surveillance cameras to him, only then does the officer stop. A guest leaves the blocked room through a window. The guests in the lower room, a majority of them young women, leave the bar through the front door.
Outside, a person is lying on the floor and is being beaten. It is not a policeman as described in the police press release. A warning shot is fired. The warning shot, which will go in connection with a Shisha bar on the following day nationwide by the press.
The bar is locked by the operator and he leaves the scene. After a while, his cell phone rings. The police are on the line. He wonders how they got his number, but shares concerns about the fallen shishas and a possible fire. He drives back, his car is surrounded, searched and he is arrested. At the station, he is given identification services, his DNA is taken, and the cell phone is confiscated. The protocols are available to us.
Meanwhile, the police searched the shisha bar until the early hours of the morning. The surveillance videos show the fire department and the forensic team, and even sniffer dogs are used. The cameras are deactivated, the recorder confiscated.
Escalation with announcement?
A few days earlier. “I got to know that the operator was approached by an operational group of the Ordnungsamt – it was about the permit for the outdoor seating.” describes Anna. The permit was available. An employee of the Ordnungsamt photographed me nevertheless on the open-air seat of the Shisha bar. When I asked if she was allowed to do that and what would happen to the photos, I got the patty answer: “It will only be used internally,” Anna quotes. She sees a connection between the actions of the public order office and the appearance of the police. “They weren’t there because of Corona. This xenophobia has become so bad.”
Guests see what happened as a criminalizing act against the operators of a shisha bar. That doesn’t seem far-fetched, given nationwide harassing controls against such establishments. “The police should integrate themselves times” says Lisa visibly incensed, after we had already said goodbye.
The media information of the police
Regarding the press release of the police, there are in any case some inconsistencies. It states:
According to the descriptions of several eyewitnesses, a person with a migrant background was lying on the ground and was beaten up and racially insulted by police officers. Guests and other people from Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse shouted at the officers so that they would let go of the person. At this moment, according to eyewitnesses, a warning shot was fired. “Luckily, because of that the police officers let off and the person ran away.”
We spoke with the victim. The statements are supported by photos with hematomas, including from batons, abrasions and lacerations.
When asked about the points in question, the police can not provide any information. Even the number of the deployed officers*innen is “subject of the investigation”. Regarding the officer who is said to have been saved by the shot, it reads on Tuesday:
“The officer, who was lying on the ground, had to be taken to a hospital for medical treatment. He was released from the hospital following the care. He has since returned to duty.” In response to the question of whether the reason for the planned measure was communicated clearly and understandably to all guests, reference was made to the responsibility of the public order office.
The office of order communicated la-presse.org on inquiry that “in particular due to the multiplicity of the persons on site as well as for reasons of the self-security” the police were called in. The “two staff[s] of the public order office” were outside during the operation. “Further details with reference to the press release of the police can not be made on the part of the Ordnungsamt.”
In total, the personal details of one person were taken for violation of the Corona Protection Ordinance. In a today’s witness appeal of the police it further reads:
“Only after another police officer fired a warning shot did the suspects let go of the officer lying on the ground and flee.” It’s not just Google reviews that have changed negatively since the police operation. The number of customers has also declined since then. “Mistakes happen everywhere. We are in talks with the public order office. We’ll fix that” said the operator during our site visit. When we met again a few days later for a photo session in the bar, he said casually: “Yesterday they were there again. Again with many vehicles. This time they were friendlier, though.” / MS
For privacy reasons, names have been changed by the editors.