On Friday and Saturday nights, dozens of cars were destroyed and damaged in the capital by hooded attackers, none of whom were arrested.
A claim of responsibility posted online on Sunday seemed to confirm city interior senator Frank Henkel's belief that “left-wing slobs” were behind the attacks, with the authors saying they would cause €1m of property damage for attacks on left-wing 'projects' in Berlin.
Police reported that between 20 and 40 masked people on bicycles had burned four high-value cars and damaged 24 others on Friday night around the Gleisdreieck park in the south-central Kreuzberg district.
Late on Saturday, a similar incident occurred, with witnesses reporting a crowd of between 50 and 100 masked perpetrators damaging around 20 cars.
More cars burned over the weekend in the Charlottenburg and Gesundbrunnen districts.
“We won't leave the streets to this far-left mob,” Henkel said on Sunday, adding that the city's internal security services – who are responsible for politically motivated crimes – were investigating.
Confrontation in 'danger zone'
Henkel, who is responsible for city security policy, has become a particular target figure for far-left groups after declaring the Nordkiez area in eastern district Friedrichshain a “danger zone” in November.
Left-wing activists' confrontation with Henkel was sharpened in January with a massive raid of 500 police officers on an iconic squat at Rigaer Straße 94, after a police officer was beaten up outside while issuing a parking ticket.
Many left-wingers and mainstream politicians criticized the raid as disproportionate at the time and reminiscent of past incidents when squats have been completely cleared to make way for development.
Sunday's claim of responsibility left no doubt about a link to the raid in Rigaer Straße.
“With the burning up of excessive luxury cars, the destruction of a surveillance camera and the smashing in of display windows, we refer to the call of autonomous groups on January 21st to cause €1 million of damage for any attack on projects in Berlin,” the unknown authors wrote on indymedia.
Left-wing demo mostly peaceful
Anger over the “danger zone” and continuous police pressure were also the basis for a demonstration on Saturday under the title “Rebellious Neighours, Neighbourhoods with Solidarity, City from Below”.
— Theo Schneider (@theo_schneider) February 6, 2016
Left-wing activists in Friedrichshain believe that the city is using police and security policy to clear them out in preparation for the area to be gentrified like other nearby districts.
“For people like Frank Henkel… the Nordkiez is an area which has to be totally pacified or a problem that has to be sorted out,” the organizers wrote.
“For those of us who live, reside and work here, the Nordkiez is above all one thing: a place of resistance with a long history and the most various ways of life based on collectivity and solidarity.”
The demo went ahead under heavy police guard, with dozens of police vehicles and around 1,200 officers flooding the streets of Friedrichshain.
While it was mostly peaceful, some bottles and rocks were thrown at police. Five police officers were injured and two people were arrested.
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