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Frankfurt cops in focus after 'racist attack'
Derege Wevelsiep. Photo: Christoph Boeckheler

Frankfurt cops in focus after 'racist attack'

Published: 08 Nov 2012 16:18 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Nov 2012 16:18 GMT+01:00

Growing public outrage in Frankfurt over an alleged attack by four police officers which left a black man unconscious and suffering concussion has prompted a debate in the state parliament over claims of racism in the police force.

Online campaigners are organising a protest march for Thursday evening in support of 41-year-old electronic engineer Derege Wevelsiep, who says he was attacked by four police officers last month.

Wevelsiep, an Ethiopian who was adopted by German parents as a child, claims the attack occurred following an argument with ticket inspectors on the Frankfurt metro on October 17th, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said on Thursday.

The police dispute Wevelsiep's version of events, and say he provoked them by calling them Nazis.

Hesse's internal affairs parliamentary committee will consider a proposal to create an independent complaints office for victims of racist violent crime, with opposition Green Party and Social Democrat (SPD) politicians demanding a full investigation into the accusations of racist violence by the police.

Green party politician Jürgen Frömmrich warned that police should not be able to “stick together” to avoid prosecution, wrote the paper.

Wevelsiep says he was travelling with his fiancé on the train late at night when they were checked by ticket inspectors. He showed them his monthly ticket - which entitled both to travel - and then got off, leaving his ticket with his fiancé so she could continue her journey.

She was then checked again, and the new inspectors accused her of trying to use the ticket to allow another black passenger to travel, Wevelsiep told the paper.

After being taken off the train by the inspectors, Wevelsiep said his fiancé phoned him and he hurried over to help her.

The inspector reportedly told the couple, "You’re not in Africa here!" upon which Wevelsiep retorted, "We’re not in 1942." At this the inspector took offence and asked "Am I a Nazi?" to which Wevelsiep replied, "I don’t know, you have to know that yourself."

The police arrived and demanded to see Wevelsiep’s identification, which he did not have with him. Wevelsiep says he was then bundled into a police car and driven home to fetch it. On the way he refused to be handcuffed by police, he told the paper, and was punched in the face by one of them and knocked out.

Wevelsiep said the police forced their way into his flat and simply dumped him there unconscious. He spent three days in hospital with concussion and bruising all over his body, wrote the paper - referring to his doctor's notes which it said it had seen.

Wevelsiep is now pressing charges against the four police officers of breaking and entering, slander, assault and assault on duty.

Spokesman for the Frankfurt transport authority (VGF) Bernd Conrad told the paper a completely different story. He said Wevelsiep and his fiancé did not have a valid train ticket and were not carrying ID. When the couple called an inspector a Nazi, the inspectors made a routine call to the police for help.

Nancy Faeser of the SPD and Jürgen Frömmich of the Green party told the paper they were awaiting the results of the state prosecutor's investigation.

If allegations of racism by police were proved true, the pair said they would demand ethnic diversity in the force was improved and that intercultural aspects of police training be extended.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:48 November 8, 2012 by Bulldawg82
Wow! This is unacceptable anywhere.
17:26 November 8, 2012 by Pakistani
anywhere except in germany!
17:27 November 8, 2012 by William Thirteen
Police racist? Next you'll be telling me that the Pope is Catholic and that bears do it in the woods!
19:19 November 8, 2012 by raandy
This can not be,Racism in Germany, no way, never happen here,,you think???
20:27 November 8, 2012 by Johnne
Like i always say, we all know that the german police is full of racists.
20:47 November 8, 2012 by mo_slum
Yeah, French, Brits, Russians and others are not racist at all. Germans are the only racist people. Go and live in other countries before you label Germans as racist people.

Generalizing Germans as racists is not fair!
20:47 November 8, 2012 by chicagolive
Being black and being a officer I will second that @Johnne. They are way worse than the ones in the states since they hide behind the slander laws. You can't call me something unless I say I am bull.
23:03 November 8, 2012 by GuidoGoth
´Well, have not been there, but its also common here if one makes a mistake (and feel caught), to call officials here a nazi or fashist (especially if the one got caught is from - or feels being an outsider). Every one as i can read here seems to jumps on that bandwagon. so think twice before u hav an opinion about thinks you did not see by yourselve. I myself, an Hifi technichian, not an official got into a strange situation a few months ago. i went to work in the morning via the(, well somtimes not very reliable) s-bahn service ;-) at work. on the train i might have looked not very nice, cause i was a bit grumpy abot the late train, okay, however a man with more proplems saw me and called me (maybe cause i gave him the same grumpy look i gave the window before) called me a fashist, i had arguments after that with him, asked how he can do this, the answer: cause i am german.... thank you :-/ i was born 1970. Thats Racism.
10:32 November 9, 2012 by Johnne
@GuidoGoth. Most people on that bandwagon are talking from experience and knowledge of the German society. First: I am of African and German roots (black/white) I love Germany, Germans, and I have friends in the police. If I say that the German Police is full of racists, I didn´t mean all of them...I´ve met good officers and I have 2 friends there. In Germany, the police are very very racist. You see, sometimes they don´t even know they are racist because they don´t have what you call cultural sensitivity and awareness.

You know yourself that German culture/language can be very blunt and too direct and it is not as polite as for example English. They don´t know that reffering a black man to Africa just because he´s black can be racist. They believe most black people are criminals and they simply don´t know how to be law abiding citizens just because things are gone wrong in some countries in Africa meanwhile many many things are still wrong here in Europe and if you watch Aktenzeichen XY, you can count how many black criminals, gangs or violence you can see there..actually the real criminals are more European/whites. Don´t get me wrong-there are "some" black criminals.

Now, German Police don´t know that it is totally wrong and racist, to control a person of color or black on the streets/train just because he/she looks foreign. I have some experience and even my wife (white german) have experienced it 2 or 3 times with me so she is indeed a living witness. Another terrible thing is you don´t get punished/prosecuted in Germany for racism unlike the UK,where they don´t force you not to be racist, you can be racist inside and carry it on your face but once you open your mouth to call someone a name or similar, you can be very sure you´ll get bursted and be severly punished.

My brother, I´ve lived in differnt countries, I just moved back to the UK from Germany some three months ago, and I can tell you bro that German Polizei are very very racist. If you don´t like that truth and you love your country, do what you can in your world to make it better...start a campaign or something, write pettitions and get a bit closer to people of immigrant descent in Germany cos henestly, racism in germany/polizei is almost endemic and it is disgraceful.
10:41 November 9, 2012 by elboertjie
Why would it be illegal to change/alternate the extra passenger on a 50-zone ticket after hours?

Surely if one gets off and another take his place and there is still only two per the ticket, that is legal, or?
10:57 November 9, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
Oury Jalloh - das war was?

http://initiativeouryjalloh.wordpress.com/
11:07 November 9, 2012 by ddiddly
Based on what little German I understand, reading the original article I understand it was the private company that checks tickets that supposedly did this. If that is the case, I feel saying it was the Frankfurt police to be a bit slanderous. I do not care for public transportation here in Germany do to the price and these thuggish brutes. The few times I have taken a night bus I always seemed to encounter them. I have had to come to my wife's rescue with her passport once when she was detained by them also. Just because you have a bad run in and get beat up, does not mean it had everything to do with race. I am sure if I started calling these thugs nazis and getting into it with them I would have been roughed up also. When the bouncers killed that brit in Frankfurt people were not calling racism.
11:24 November 9, 2012 by raandy
@chicagolive true,what you said and I would like to add this .

Any large to middle size police force in the USA , have many people of color amongst their ranks. Racism is dealt with very severely,in many cases the punishment is doubled.

People are not able to solve racism on their own,it takes education,will and laws to protect all citizens under a Nations jurisdiction.

Germany,s way of dealing with racism makes it clear that elitism will always be with us.
12:05 November 9, 2012 by royp
The rules are clear for dealing with the police in every land, you comply with their instructions, and even if they are wrong do what they say. Then later make a formal complaint if the police mistreated you or broke a law etc. But the correct time to do this is not when being instructed to do something by the police who have been called to an incident. Police have been trained to get control of a situation and will escalate with violence to gain control and restore order.

I live in Frankfurt and No yet again, the local is wrong, Frankfurt is a rich town and the centre for travel with the main train station and Airport, the police are doing a good job in keeping Frankfurt safe, unlike an Uk or USA city it is safe to walk at night, now we know why?
13:54 November 9, 2012 by gkh50
I have a cracker. Whilst in Munich, a local (Turkish type chappy), cut me up after I was indicating to move into right hand lane (for a right turn). Long and short, he made an illegal turn crashed into me and well was about to kick off.. He called the police, they turned up. So I called my friend (a German Lawyer) for translation. They refused to speak to him and insisted I inform them of what happened. Note. "Never ever speak to the police".

So I informed them that while they would not speak to my lawyer, we let the insurance company sort it out.... Off local chappy goes with them, they come back. Ask questions.. Me asks friend.. Dont say a word he says.

They ask how much money I earn. I say, call my Steureberator. They ask what I do. I say, call my stuereberator. Bit key stone cops at this time.

4 weeks later, Mr. Stadtanwahlt starts a prosecution against me for being racist and causing the other guy to make an illegal turn and crash into me... at this time I fall off my chair laughing.

Now big guns get brought out.. via my Lawyer.. how can he be racist when he only works in Africa, APAC his friends are, Asian, black brown pink etc. AND why did your police refuse to speak to his lawyer etc etc... they soon backed off.

German police racist.. Well, I have met some who are, and I am white but an Auslander. Just call your lawyer and they back off very very quickly.

Germans racist.- The ones I know. No. It is just that Germany is not like UK with a high population of multi - cultural interaction.
14:19 November 11, 2012 by zameenzad
@mo_slum

"Yeah, French, Brits, Russians and others are not racist at all. Germans are the only racist people. Go and live in other countries before you label Germans as racist people. Generalizing Germans as racists is not fair! "

Funny, how your name contradict that German are not racist. You name is clear example of racism and Islamophobia and You are insulting Muslims by calling them mo-slum and then saying sheepishly that Germans are not racist.
12:30 December 11, 2012 by jetzeta
I'v been to a lot of European cities because I'm from Europe myself. But nothing prepared me for the vitriol and hate spewing from the mouths of young and old in Frankfurt. Calling foreigners 'Untermenschen' and I'M white! Racism is alive and kicking in the Fatherland I'm afraid..
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