Every year since 1987 the "Revolutionary 1st of May" has taken place in Kreuzberg, a district of Berlin. The demonstration, organised by the leftist Antifaschistische Aktion Berlin AAB (Anti-Fascist Campaign Berlin), has always ended in fights between the demonstrators and the police. This year the minister of the interior in Berlin, Eckhardt Werthebach, forbade the radical rally, with the justification that it endangered public order and safety. The annual uproar should be prevented. At the same time, he ruled that a rightist parade should also have been be forbidden, but then the Berlin administrative court permitted the Neo-Nazis’ demonstration, which had the motto "Jobs first for Germans".
The record police presence, 9000 policemen, should contribute to avoid the violence in Kreuzberg, the ministry of the interior affirmed. In addition, the police president of Berlin Hagen Saberschinsky considered sealing off whole districts in case of an emergency. Gatherings in Kreuzberg were forbidden to take place after 4 p.m.
The balance of the 1st of May 2001 in Kreuzberg: 616 arrests, 1112 custody, 166 injured policemen, unknown number of injured demonstrators, 10 million DM expenses for the police operation, 8 tons riot debris. According to observers, these were the heaviest clashes for years.
Illustration by Florian Weiss
Ahmed Guelen, owner of a kebab-shop:
"The Rightists want to beat me up ’cause they don’t like me. And the Leftists, who beat the Rightists up ’cause they don’t like me, are now going to smash the panes of my shop window."
Nurse: "Worse than the year before. But not so bad as New Year or the Love Parade."
Wolfgang Wieland, politician from the SPD (Social Democratic Party): "What the minister of interior Werthebach promised, namely the end of the riots, he didn’t deliver. Banning the demonstration whilst permitting the NPD-demo was wrong. In 2000 considerably less happened."
Speaker at the demonstration against the demonstration ban: "Even if they call up the entire police force of Europe, they couldn’t ban the 1st May."
Turkish Kreuzberger spurring on the demonstrators: "Come on, be brave, fight harder."
German Kreuzberger: "The riot-tourists find something like that cool, that’s all."
Participant of the riots: "Kreuzberg has to be defended!"
Marc Schlosser from AAB (Anti-Fascist Campaign Berlin): "The conflict is the logical result of the police strategy. People don’t want to let themselves be occupied. We observed uproars that were worse than during the years before."
Eckhardt Werthebach, minister of the interior: "The tactics were right and I’m going to continue in the same way."
Policeman: "We couldn’t punch everybody!"
Trade union of the police: "The ban from the minister of interior has complicated the police task."
17.40 A fire engine with flashing blue light in the Mariannenstraße.
17.41 People are running in the Mariannenstr. Screaming and police siren from the Mariannenstraße.
17.42 Approx. 300 equipped policemen in Mariannenstraße.
17.43 Paving stones are being thrown into the Mariannenstraße.
17.44 "Germany never again" screams can be heard.
17.45 People are running from the Mariannenstr. to the Mariannenplatz.
17.46 The fire engine leaves.
17.47 A flare comes from the crowd in direction Mariannenstraße.
17.48 Persons are carrying banners with "Democracy instead of Corporate Power" sayings for example. They are connecting up the crowd.
17.49 Stones are being thrown from the crowd into the Mariannenstr. where the police are standing.
17.50 Unintelligible police order …
17.57 People are throwing stones at the police
17.54 Heavy use of water cannons: People are being pushed to the Mariannenplatz …
18.12 Police empty the Mariannenplatz by pushing and beating people.