jc.tryps

– feeds your head

Tag Archives: riot

Media and the truth.

berlin street art - ALIAS

berlin street art - ALIAS (and if you know who the other artist is, let me know!)

I’m standing at the outskirts of the crowd, partly out of care and partly out of cowardice. I’ve never liked crowds, and if the crowd is a demonstration surrounded by police in full riot gear, I like it even less. For some reason we’ve come to a stop and none of the people around me seem to know why. Everyone’s going ‘what the fuck’s up?’, but there’s no announcement, no information. We stand around for quite some time before we can hear something being said over a megaphone, but exactly what is impossible to hear. The conclusion everyone draws is that it’s over now, that the police has stopped the demonstration from going any further. We’re on a long stretch of street without side streets and it’s very crowded. People start moving a bit, but there’s really nowhere to go. And then, pretty much out of the blue as far as most of us are concerned, the police line advances and in the middle of the crowd people start screaming. I’m right at the edge, so the police are pretty much trying to push me back in to the crowd. Luckily, and most likely because of the aforementioned cowardice, I immediately notice what’s happening and manage to sneak through a gap before they close the line completely. Behind me I hear two girls begging to be let through, panic in their voices. As I push my way through the crowd of people now desperately trying to get away from the erupting turmoil, I see several people holding their faces in extreme agony. People are screaming for water. And at first it’s like my brain doesn’t really want to process the information, it’s just too bizarre somehow, but then I realize it’s tear gas. They have fired fucking tear gas straight into the crowd. That’s when I also realize I have to get out of there. Fast. And I’m very lucky, not only do I get out, but I also manage to find a spot where I can still see some part of what’s going on. And I see people trying to get out anywhere they can, some try climbing over a 4m wall in a courtyard hoping to find a way out in the adjacent one. Out in the street people are running and the police keep pushing the crowd together and backwards even though there’s not really anywhere for them to go. More tear gas, more screams. I don’t know how long it lasts, but it doesn’t take the police that long to clear the street from most of the people. But the sirens keep going all night. Read more of this post

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There goes the neighborhood.

Today a squat is being cleared in my neighborhood, Liebigstrasse 14. It’s a house project that’s existed for 20 years and were the occupants, through negotiations with the Berlin senate, got legal tenancy agreements in the early 90s. But then, in the late 90s, big money came in and wanted to buy the house from the WBF (Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Friedrichshain ≈ Friedrichshain Housing Association), who was the current owner. And as we all know, money talks and the house was sold. The only problem was that the people who were actually living there wasn’t he target group the new owner was looking for. He was looking to make a profit, and with his current tenants that was not very likely to happen. So their leases were cancelled. They however, had no intention of moving anywhere. As far as they were concerned it was still their house. A house they had lived in for 20 years and renovated themselves. After going through the usual rounds in the legal system the eviction was confirmed and the current tenants where to be kicked out. By force if necessary. And of course force was necessary. Read more of this post

Rules are meant to be reasonable.

For the past two weeks I have been participating, involuntarily, in a course about how to apply for jobs. I already know how to apply for a job, so that part of the course is a complete waste of time, but I am getting loads of insights to the wonder that is the human psyche. Just now I had following conversation down in the lobby by the elevators:

“Hi I’m the janitor. Where are you going?”

“To the 4th floor.”

“Are you a participant in the course?”

“Yeah.”

“Then you have to take the stairs.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s the way it is. It’s the rule. Says so on the sign there.”

I looked at him in disbelief and then I looked at the completely deserted lobby. There was really no one else around. The course is taking place in a high-rise building with a multitude of activities happening on the various floors. Office space, a kindergarten, various school type activities etc, so there are times when the elevators are very busy. At those times it does of course make sense to have a rule that says that the people higher up in the building, or the parents with their kids, have right of way to the elevator. But at this particular time the lobby was deserted. No one in sight. But the janitor was still sticking to his point – I should take the stairs. He even went as far as to say that he wanted to see me do that. I contemplated telling him that wouldn’t really be possible since he was actually standing in the elevator as we were having this conversation and the stairs are located in a separate entrance, but then I decided against it seeing as the likelihood of it being a very fruitful discussion was virtually zero. I waited him out and then took the elevator. Read more of this post

Riot – worthwhile work for everyone

“Riot – worthwhile work for everyone.” I have a t-shirt that says that. I bought it because I thought the message made sense. It was back in 2001, just after the riots at the EU summit in the Swedish city Gothenburg had happened, and I was appalled by the reactions from the general public. First there were lots of very violent demonstrations and clashes between the protesters and the police, and then a guy was shot by the police, in Sweden that’s not something that happens every day. In fact, it was pretty much unheard of. But the strange thing was that it was the protests themselves that were questioned, not what the police did. Suddenly the “fight for your right” credo seemed to belong more to the police than to the people. I thought that was scary. And i think that’s why I bought that t-shirt. To make some sort of statement about the right to protest.

So does it help? To protest and challenge the establishment? Is there a point? Yes, I hope so. I hope it helps to raise your voice when you think something is wrong. After all, that is one of the fundamental rights in a democracy, to speak your mind. As citizens we do have a right to protest. And that right should be exercised. Thankfully most of the political establishment realizes and recognizes this. But what strikes me is how few conclusions are drawn from this realization. Read more of this post

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