Statement by linXXnet on the current debate about the police

With this text we want to give a voice to all those people who cannot identify with the unconditional police solidarity statements that left-wingers have also formulated in the course of the current debate. Instead, we would like to stand up together for a differentiated, factually sound and, above all, really left-wing position towards the police.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was brutally arrested and killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. Massive protests break out that spill over the ocean to Europe and Germany. Large demonstrations of solidarity with those affected by racism and racist police violence also fill the streets in Germany.

This important problem, which has too often been pushed aside, is finally finding its way into the broad public debate and making visible what has been hushed up: racism is not an isolated problem – also in the authorities and also in the police force – but a structural one.

SPD Chairwoman Saskia Esken's siding with the many Black and People of Color who spoke on public squares in Germany about their own negative experiences with the police caused storms of indignation. The anti-discrimination law that happened to be passed in Berlin during this time, which also binds authorities to the principle of equal treatment laid down in the Basic Law and makes it easier for those affected by discrimination to assert their rights, brought angry representatives of the police unions and conservative politicians onto the scene. The Federal Minister of the Interior even spoke of “discrimination” against the police through the law.

Many reactions to the current political debates and measures show that the police still have a status as the "holy grail". Critics of police action are quickly accused of generalizing, alienating the law or even being hostile to the state. In this way, criticism is delegitimized and the police are immunized against criticism.

In the midst of the chorus of unconditional defenders of the police, functionaries of our party have repeatedly been found in recent weeks.

“Racism in the police force must be consistently combated, as it is everywhere. However, it is wrong to place the police under the general suspicion of racism. Police officers deserve more recognition,” tweeted Dietmar Bartsch, chairman of the left-wing parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, on June 9, 2020, for example.

Immediately after the violent riots in Stuttgart, he joined the tenor of the law-and-order politicians via Twitter on June 21, without the background to the events being known at the time.
Only a few months ago, based on the media coverage of New Year's Eve at Connewitzer Kreuz, we experienced how the police sometimes acted as a political actor in their public relations work and influenced the debate in favor of conservative and right-wing positions that called for more repression, more powers and more militarization of the scream police.

With this text, we want to give a voice to all those people who cannot identify with the unconditional police solidarity statements that left-wingers also formulated in the course of the debate. Instead, we would like to stand up together for a differentiated, factually sound and, above all, really left-wing position towards the police.

We do not raise any general suspicion. Of course, not all police officers are racist. In fact, in the course of the current discussion, the police have not yet been placed "under general suspicion of racism" by any side. The only ones who claim that are conservative and right-wing politicians and the spokesmen of the police unions, who stage all police officers as victims with distorted statistics about physical attacks on police officers and an alleged lack of recognition of the police in the population and thus one want to achieve emotionalisation of the discussion, which suits them very well. After all, this makes it all the easier to cover up the fact that the governments and large police unions are ultimately to blame for the fact that we can only name structural racism and anti-democratic efforts within the police force as "suspicions" - because the CDU, DPolG and GdP have always fought with everyone Force against in-depth studies on discriminatory attitudes in the police, independent complaints offices, a documentation requirement for identity checks or a labeling requirement, i.e. simply any form of democratic control and transparency of police action.

We can therefore understand all the less why leftists jump on the calculated outrage carousel about an alleged general suspicion against the police and thus reproduce conservative and right-wing buzzwords instead of dealing with the obvious imbalance of the debate in a differentiated and critical way.

Furthermore, we have to acknowledge, even without a broad set of facts, that there is a structural racism problem in the police apparatus and that the tasks assigned to the police as part of the executive also mean the execution of state racism.

On the basis of numerous uncovered abuses, for example investigations against police officers because of the use of anti-constitutional symbols, membership in the Reich citizen scene, cf., the right-wing network in the Hessian police, the racist hate speech in a chat group of Saxon police students, dealing with journalists (e.g. the "hat citizen" scandal), right-wing entanglements (keyword: Nordkreuz group, led by an LKA and SEK officials) and investigative behavior as in the case of the NSU complex, from our point of view it can be said that the police are not just a mirror of society - authoritarian, conservative and discriminatory attitudes are concentrated here.

Sociologists such as police researcher Rafael Behr point out that these attitudes often develop over the course of a police career. And it is precisely the isolation of parts of the police apparatus, there are unquestioned racist or political enemy images among police officers, it is an esprit de corps and it is the lack of democratic control that prevents internal self-reflection and changes.

That is why it is more than appropriate for us as LINKE to take a critical position on police action, instead of standing by their side again and again in full and uncritically.

Many of us have experienced police violence in our political work. And we know too well that the punishment of the same must be carefully considered. Ads either lead to nothing, or to us being displayed ourselves. In this sense, our place as LINKE is at the side of those who are disenfranchised and disenfranchised by state power. We are responsible for denouncing illegitimate police violence and for clearly identifying and fighting ideologies of inequality within the police force.

As members and friends of DIE LINKE, in our daily work we stand by those who are checked by the police near the train stations because their skin color is different. We are standing in front of our friends' door, who are being picked up by the police to be deported. We sit next to each other in the blockade to block the way for neo-Nazis and watch out for each other when the police want to clear us. We question police press releases and create counter-publicity when the media simply take them over. We work in investigative committees, in parliaments and in honorary posts to uncover right-wing networks and, in doing so, often come across connections with the police.

We work at all levels for social security and solidary neighborhoods instead of surveillance and control. At the various parliamentary levels and in extra-parliamentary initiatives and alliances, we are ultimately fighting for a fundamental reform of the police. This means, among other things, the introduction of mandatory identification, an independent complaints office for police officers and citizens, the dissolution of closed police units, the explicit ban on racial profiling, the obligation to document personal checks and the strengthening of democracy and human rights education as part of police training.

We appeal to the chairman of the left-wing faction in the German Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, to consider his statements in the light of our programmatic positioning as the party DIE LINKE:

We want to overcome all social conditions in which people are exploited, disenfranchised and disenfranchised and in which their social and natural foundations of life are destroyed.

We appeal to all those on the left who have unconditionally supported the police over the past few weeks, to reconsider their one-sided statements, to question the police's lack of fundamental control options in terms of the separation of powers and to take into account the reality of life of the many people in their Perception that police action is often associated with personal fear and powerlessness and that the police as an institution should be comprehensively reformed for good reasons.

The linXXnet in July 2020

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