After riots in Stuttgart: Coming to terms with the “frenzy of violence”

As of: September 19, 2023 5:19 a.m

31 injured emergency services, 228 identities identified: After the large-scale police operation in Stuttgart, there are calls for a ban on another Eritrea event. However, the authorities are refraining from doing this for the time being.

Hematomas, a flesh wound and bruises: the police officers are still feeling the effects of the operation at the weekend. The Baden-Württemberg Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) spoke to the press in Stuttgart about an unexpected excess of violence on the part of an angry mob against the police. If the officers hadn’t acted so courageously, then “there would probably have been deaths,” is how Strobl assesses the situation in retrospect.

Last Saturday there were violent riots on the sidelines of a registered Eritrea event in the Baden-Württemberg state capital. It was organized by the Association of Eritrean Clubs in Stuttgart and the surrounding area. While around 80 to 90 people who, according to the police, are close to the dictatorial regime in northeast Africa gathered in the rooms of the Stuttgart Roman fort in the Bad Cannstatt district, more than 200 opponents of the Eritrean government gathered in front of the building.

228 identities identified

During the afternoon there were attacks on the police officers who were securing the event. According to a police spokesman, the emergency services on site were attacked with stones, bottles, metal rods and wooden slats. Initially it was said that 27 people were injured. In the afternoon, Interior Minister Strobl spoke of a total of 31 injured emergency services. The number will probably increase in the coming days “when the adrenaline wears off.” Only then would some injuries come to light, said the Interior Minister.

Strobl quoted an official who described the weekend attack as having to face a “wall of stones.” The Interior Minister thanked the officers for their efforts against the numerically superior attackers. Almost all of the identities of 228 people have already been established, and the investigative group that has been set up will now work through the weekend’s events “quickly, professionally and meticulously,” said Strobl.

“Unexpected frenzy of violence”

When asked whether the event should have been better secured and whether the situation had been underestimated, the Interior Minister responded negatively. The police had prepared well and had not registered for a counter-demonstration. 20 police officers were planned to protect the 80 registered people in the closed room. The later extent of the disruption could not have been foreseen, Strobl said today: “The police were confronted with an unexpected frenzy of violence.”

But the chairman of the German police union in Baden-Württemberg, Ralf Kusterer, is adamant SWR-Interview against. He doesn’t share Strobl’s assessment: “My assessment of the situation would have been different.” According to Kusterer, one should have assumed that there was an increased risk potential. There had already been riots at an Eritrea festival in Giessen, Hesse, in July.

26 police officers were injured at the time – seven of them seriously. The city of Giessen initially banned the event. However, the Administrative Court overturned this decision. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) expressed criticism of the Eritrean conflict in Germany after the riots in Stuttgart. The perpetrators of violence must be held responsible.

Investigations due to serious breach of the peace

Another event was announced by the Association of Eritrean Clubs in Stuttgart for next Saturday. The city stated that it wanted to speak to all parties in advance. So far there have been no reasons to ban the Eritrea events, but the city will draw conclusions from the results of the public prosecutor’s investigation, it said. The mayor of the city of Stuttgart, Clemens Maier (Free Voters), said today that a ban on an event would be a “sharp sword”. It also doesn’t make sense to punish the organizer for the fact that counter-demonstrators behaved criminally.

Johannys Russom from the umbrella organization of Eritrean clubs in Stuttgart, who was responsible for the past events in Stuttgart and Gießen, sees it similarly. “They want to silence us. Why should we give in to the violent criminals?” He wants to stick to the appointment in Stuttgart. Regarding the accusation that money was being collected at the events to support the Eritrean regime, Russom said SWR: “There is no evidence of that.”

Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister Strobl emphasized that in Germany “political disputes are not waged with violence.” On the other hand, anyone who attacks civil servants in a “frenzy of violence” makes it clear that they do not want to belong to this society. Strobl told the press in Stuttgart that he was sure that the constitutional state would have clear answers to the weekend’s events. The suspects are being investigated for, among other things, serious breach of the peace and bodily harm.

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