Tens of thousands rally across Germany against racism and police brutality

Tens of thousands of people have attended anti-racism protests in cities across Germany on Saturday.

Tens of thousands rally across Germany against racism and police brutality
Protesters take part in an anti-racism demonstration in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Protesters demonstrated against police violence and racism in the wake of the killing of US man George Floyd in the northern US city of Minneapolis on May 25th. 

The incident was filmed and went viral, with similar protests taking place in the United States and across the globe. 

While Saturday’s protests were not the first to take place in Germany, they were the largest and most coordinated efforts to date. 

READ ALSO: Merkel condemns racist 'murder' of George Floyd

While the protests were approved despite coronavirus restrictions, police implored demonstrators to keep social distance during the rallies.

A reported 20,000 turned out in Munich, along with 14,000 in Hamburg, 10,000 in Stuttgart, and large gatherings also took place in Düsseldorf, Freiburg, Cologne, Hanover, Frankfurt and several other cities.

In Berlin, an estimated 15,000 people attended a demonstration at the central Alexanderplatz, despite a registration for only 1,500. Police used Twitter to tell protesters that the event was ‘full’ just 45 minutes after its scheduled start time and asked people to stop arriving. 

Demonstrators in Berlin observed an 8 minute and 46 second period of silence, symbolising the amount of time that Floyd’s arresting officer placed his knee on his neck.

Altercations in Hamburg and Berlin

Although protesters and German police won praise for their handling of the protests, not all events were peaceful. 

Police in Berlin were required to respond to a series of altercations against officers in the aftermath of the demonstration. DPA reports that 93 people were arrested and 28 police officers were injured, three of whom required hospitalisation.

In Hamburg, police used a water cannon against protesters who threw bottles and stones at officers.




Member comments

  1. All lives matter. To select a single race for special treatment is simply racist, by definition. Police brutality, if it happens, must be addressed through the proper channels: elected representatives, petitions, referendums etc. Violence and vandalism will convince nobody. BLM is a racist, political organisation that calls for de-funding police forces. They also want to redistribute wealth and resources earned by non-blacks to their benefit. They would not be allowed in Europe today and if the real racists of the 30s and 40s had not been stopped by the Allies. And yet, they disrespect and vandalise the statues of those that stood up to fascism and racism. If Hitler had won, they would not be vandalising his statues across Europe, which would be reserved for white Aryans.

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Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added.