Focus: Policing the Crisis

When the emergency button is pushed – an introduction
by Heiner Busch
Moral panics and police violence are regular ingredients of crisis management. This is not only the case in the south of Europe, where the police clearly takes the role of enforcing austerity measures, but also in Germany. Stop and search operations are concentrated in poorer districts of the big cities. Where bureaucratic measures fail, the police comes into action.

The UK police landscape after the 2011 riots
by Val Swain
Since 2010 there have been student demonstrations against government attacks on higher education and a range of other protests against public-sector cuts. In August 2011 widespread rioting broke out. The fact that the police was caught off-guard resulted in intense activities to make sure such things would not happen again. The Metropolitan Police of London is currently enlarging its stock of plastic bullets and is planning to buy water cannons, but it is also increasing surveillance levels e.g. by using undercover agents and new software to monitor social media.

Social struggles and repressive power in Italy
by Andrea Dini Modigliani and Giulia Fabini
A mixture of social factors which mitigated the effects of the crisis but also the weakness of the non-parliamentary Left after the Genoa G8 summit in 2001 are the reasons for the non-absence of mass protests against austerity politics in Italy. However, sites of fracture became visible recently: the spectre of the “criminal immigrant” which legitimised domestic security policies for years is losing credibility. Police forces and the criminal justice system have responded with new and renewed forms of repression to left-wing protests which have been growing in strength since 2010.

Right-wing crisis management in Greece
by Carolin Philipp
After lengthy flip-flopping the Greek government now seems to be prepared to contain the Golden Dawn’s influence on the police. The rise of the right-wing extremists is the result of the bewilderment caused by the crisis and in particular by the crisis management in recent years. The resulting aggressions are directed by the ruling elite in particular against migrants who are being exploited as a labour force, stigmatised as scape-goats and victims of police violence. Following a “theory of two extremes” the police also targets the Left.

Belarus: highest police density in Europe
Interview with Olga Karash
Olga Karach is chairing the Belarussian civil liberties organisation “Nash Dom“. In our interview she explains her experiences with repression since the age of 20. New laws give the police more powers, whereas suing officers for degrading treatment is often impossible. Membership in non-registered associations is illegal. In many cases activists are being intimidated with the threat that family members will face police harassment as well. At the same time the European Union is negotiating a deportation agreement and a visa liberalisation regime with Belarus.
German police as agent of authoritarian disciplinary action
by Andreas Blechschmidt
Germany was hardly affected by the crisis compared to countries in Southern Europe. Nonetheless the German police has prepared for situations of unrest. This is not only obvious in urban contexts where their crime prevention strategies stabilise neoliberal transformation but also in police law and growing militarisation.

The crisis as catalyst for protest policing in Europe
by Andrea Kretschmann
Since 2008 the most severe crisis of capitalism since the 1930s is unfolding in the European Union. Whereas the crisis entails fierce social struggles, criminologists observe a significant change in protest policing. In this context the crisis serves as a relative catalyst for recent trends in protest policing.

Beyond the focus

Dangerous areas and stop and search without cause
by Christian Schröder
Once the police of Hamburg had declared major parts of the inner city as “dangerous areas” in January 2014, a nation-wide controversy was sparked about the powers of the police to stop and search persons without cause. To displace unwanted social groups is an essential objective behind the designations of special control zones. In Berlin and Hamburg these designations explicitly aim to chase undocumented migrants; in Hamburg it also served the containment of protest.

Emergency and norm
by Wolf-Dieter Narr
In modern states, a permanent tension exists between constitutional norms and emergency situations. Today, for the worldwide imperial dominance of the US and the states connected to it like Germany, these situations are imagined as unlimited terrorist threats. They are dealt with through expanded state security organisations and secret agencies with their preventive measures. Those measures however potentially undermine and corrupt the constitutional law. Democracy and its fundamental functioning is vanishing away.

Fatal police shootings
by Otto Diederichs
In 2013, German police officers in 38 cases used firearms against persons. 20 people were injured, eight were killed. Since 2011 there is a rising percentage of mentally ill persons among the victims of fatal police shootings. Although the problem of officers lacking preparation and training for dealing with mentally ill or confused persons in troubled situations is well known, ministers of the interior and police management continue to turn the blind eye.