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Police earn praise for taking down trolls after Heidelberg car attack

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Police earn praise for taking down trolls after Heidelberg car attack
An officer stands guard at the site of the attack in Heidelberg on Saturday. Photo: DPA
12:22 CET+01:00
When a man drove a car into a group of pedestrians on Saturday, Twitter trolls demanded to know why police weren't talking about his ethnicity. Cue a tirade from police on proper rules of investigation.

Shortly after 6pm on Saturday evening, police in Mannheim published a tweet outlining the essential details of a horrific crime which had taken place that afternoon in Heidelberg.

“Man drives into group of people, three people injured, suspect apprehended by police and shot,” the tweet read.

It was later revealed that a 35-year-old student had driven a hire car into a group of pedestrians in the old town of the famed university city, killing a pensioner and lightly injuring two other people.

He then fled from his vehicle, wielding a knife. Police reportedly shot him when he refused to put down the weapon.

There have been unconfirmed reports in the media that the man suffered from psychological problems. Police have said they have no evidence there was a terrorist motive behind the attack.

For many social media users though, the police tweet's apparent brevity was clear evidence that German authorities were covering up the attacker's ethnicity to protect Germany's political class.

“Which migratory background did the the attempted murderer have?” demanded one Twitter user.

“Every German state needs to adhere to stronger deportations. No more migrants!” another wrote.

SEE ALSO: Mass sexual assaults by refugees in Frankfurt ‘completely made up'

Accusations on social media that the police cover up crimes committed by refugees and foreigners have become increasingly prevalent since Germany took in almost a million refugees in 2015.

Public trust in the police took a blow after law enforcement in Cologne were accused of hiding the facts about sexual assaults on women in the city centre over New Year in 2016. The attackers were largely described as being of North African origin. An official investigation was set up to look into the police handling of the events, but has not yet released its findings.

But whoever was in control of the Mannheim Police twitter account on Saturday clearly decided that the angry members of the public needed a lesson in policing.

Addressing one Twitter user, who told them to “tell the whole truth or shut your mouth”, Mannheim Police shot back: “have you forgotten your manners, or were you never taught them? Everything in due time, i.e. when the investigation is far enough.”

At 9.25pm the police issued a tweet revealing that the suspect was a 35-year-old German. But this still wasn't enough for many Twitter users, who complained that nationality didn't say enough about someone's ethnicity.

The temper of the officer behind the Twitter account clearly frayed at this point. When one Tweeter wrote "is he fuck German, he's a fucking Muslim", Mannheim Police wrote back “WTF are you talking about?”

Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany, who regularly lay blame for violence on refugees before the police have established the full facts, also jumped in to attack the investigators.

Anne Zielisch, a parliamentary candidate for the far-right AfD in Berlin, tweeted: "'No indication of a terror attack' must be taken as a bald lie. I'm reminded of Cologne. #Fakenews."

An hour later, police issued yet another clarification: “Once more for everyone: suspect is German without migratory background.”

Some Twitter users criticized Mannheim law enforcement for losing their sense of professionalism during the Twitter spats, but they won praise from many other corners for their forthright defence of proper police practice.

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