Nfter the New Year’s Eve riots in Berlin and other German cities, more and more is gradually becoming known about the suspects. In Berlin, where there were particularly violent riots and attacks on emergency services, the police reported that of the 145 people arrested on New Year’s Eve, 100 were foreigners. According to a spokesman, 45 have German citizenship. A total of 18 different nationalities were recorded. These included 27 Afghans and 21 Syrians; taken together, they make up around half of those arrested with foreign nationality.
According to the police, all but six of those arrested are male. About two thirds of them are not yet 25 years old. All those arrested have now been released, as suspects must be released after 48 hours at the latest if no pre-trial detention is ordered.
A total of 355 criminal and administrative offense proceedings were initiated because of the riots in Berlin. Investigations are being carried out, among other things, for serious breaches of the peace, attacks on law enforcement officers and rescue workers and dangerous bodily harm. 41 police officers were injured. Information on how many of them were temporarily unable to work was not given. A police officer who suffered severe burn injuries was reportedly discharged from the hospital.
Not just a New Year’s problem
Hamburg’s Interior Senator Andy Grote (SPD) announced that more than 20 suspects had been taken into custody or arrested in connection with attacks on the police and fire brigade. It is about young men and about incidents at focal points, said Grote on the North German Radio. Some of them are known to the police. “The issue of migration background also plays a role here,” said the Interior Senator. However, he warned against making it “too easy” on yourself. The problem does not only exist at the turn of the year. “There’s something going on on New Year’s Eve and under the special circumstances on New Year’s Eve, which of course is there all year round.”
The Federal Ministry of the Interior announced on Wednesday in Berlin that a nationwide assessment of the events would be delayed until all states had submitted their reports. A spokesman said it could take a few days for that to happen. He rejected the accusation that the federal government was avoiding a discussion about a possible connection between the attacks on the emergency services and the failure of integration efforts. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is “not afraid” to have such a discussion. “When it comes to suspects with a migration background, she names that very clearly.”
Meanwhile, the debate about the consequences of the riots continues. Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) announced a summit against youth violence. In response to the violence and “massive disrespect” a “mixture of an outstretched hand and a stop signal” is needed, Giffey told RBB: perpetrators must be punished quickly and consistently. A “new boost” is needed in several areas, in schools, youth social work, police prevention and youth court assistance.
Giffey against the ban on firecrackers
Giffey also spoke out against a nationwide ban on firecrackers, as requested by coalition partner Die Linke, among others. She does not believe that such a ban would be enforceable at the federal level.
Giffey turned against the criticism from the Union leadership that Berlin is not doing enough for the effective use of the police. The police and fire brigade were deployed “in full force” and the violence on New Year’s Eve was not a “Berlin phenomenon,” said Giffey, who wants to defend her position as governing mayor in the repeat elections in Berlin on February 12. After all, similar incidents happened in other cities.
The chairmen of the CDU and CSU, Friedrich Merz and Markus Söder, had previously sharply criticized the Berlin Senate. “The chaos, many with a migration background, challenged the state with their riots, which they despise,” Merz told the “Münchner Merkur”. Berlin cannot cope with the situation, said Merz. This is also due to the fact that the Senate has “limited the rights and possible uses of the police for years for political reasons”. Therefore, one should not be surprised about the crimes against police officers and rescue workers on May 1st or on New Year’s Eve. Söder said that Berlin was “unfortunately developing into a city of chaos”.
Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) spoke out in favor of the perpetrators being convicted quickly. The fact that people attack the police, fire brigade or rescue workers is a development that has been observed for years. The perpetrators are “almost exclusively young men” who “sometimes come from right-wing extremist backgrounds, but also from migrant backgrounds”. That is why appropriate penalties are needed, such as the withdrawal of a driver’s license.