Thematic Focus: Police Laws – Eroding Boundaries and Protest

Five Years of Toughening Up Police Laws in Review
by Eric Töpfer and Marius Kühne

Germany has upgraded. On July 20, 2021, the Bavarian state parliament passed the last amendment to the Bavarian Police Tasks Law (for the time being), marking the provisional end to a series of measures toughening up police law that began in 2017 with the amendment to the Federal Criminal Police Law. This not only involved new powers to combat “dangerous persons”, but also the expansion of surveillance and dragnet searches, as well as an expansion of the arsenal of weapons. The updates to subjects’ rights and data protection that were implemented simultaneously did not compensate for this increase in power.

Taking Stock of the Protests Against Stricter Police Laws
Michèle Winkler

The toughening-up of police laws was met with considerable protests, reaching their peak in 2018 when more than 40,000 people demonstrated against the law in Munich and thousands took to the streets in Düsseldorf and in Hanover. The protests were able to weaken the proposed measures in parts, but could ultimately not prevent the laws. Future protest movements should build on these experiences, develop their own visions and alternatives to the prevailing discourse on security, and particularly involve marginalized people more closely.

Tasers in German Police Law
by Volker Eick

Federal and state police forces have been using the ranged electroshock devices commonly known as “Tasers” for years. The laws feature a persistent lack in clarity of standards. Nevertheless, the civil rights movement has not succeeded in staying the state’s electrified hand.

The Bavarian Police Tasks Law: Exacerbation and Counterprotests
by Frederick Heussner

Through several attempts in 2016 and 2018, the Bavarian Police Tasks Law was toughened up. From the beginning, this was met with broad protests, culminating in demonstrations of more than 40,000 people. In the end, a few measures were retracted or curtailed in 2020, but the objective of full revocation was not achieved. Nevertheless, the protest against the police law had an effect beyond Bavaria and has encouraged movements for freedom and solidarity in all of Germany.

Implementing the EU Data Protection Reform into German Police Law
by Clemens Arzt

Largely unnoticed next to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the simultaneously enacted JHA directive was presented to the legislatures and required implementation into national law. The German states have chosen very different paths. An ambitious realignment of the outdated data processing law has failed to materialize.

The “Dangerous Person” in Police Law
by Anna Busl

From 2018 onwards, several state police laws have introduced the legal concept of the “dangerous person” or “impending threat” (“Gefährder” and “drohendeGefahr”), attaching new police powers to them. Since then, new forms of police custody that can last up to two months and the option to impose the wearing of electronic monitoring shackles in order to enforce restrictions on movement and contacts can be found nearly everywhere. These powers are mainly employed against activists who have opposed the prevailing order as refugees or in the movement against coal mining etc.

Non-Thematic Contributions

#BlackLivesMatter in the USA: From Racist Oppression to Black Capitalism?
an Interview with Margit Mayer

Large parts of the US Black Lives Matter Movement seem to have developed an affinity for the Democratic Party and to be more interested in black entrepreneurialism than in societal transformation. The interview with social movement researcher Margit Mayer discusses the background as well as alternatives. She observes a massive expansion of grants from big corporations and liberal foundations that are designed – by emphasizing Black Unity – to prevent class solidarity cutting across ethnic and racial belonging. Instead, she argues for an intersectional critique of oppression and domination.

Fatal Police Shootings in 2020
by Otto Diederichs

15 people died by police shooting in 2020, 31 were injured. The share of victims with mental illness increased, as it did in previous years. The number of unintentional shootings increased by 75 percent compared to the previous year and now stands at 98.

New CILIP Website on Fatal Police Shootings Since 1976
byJohannes Filter und Matthias Monroy

A striking number of people are killed in their own homes by the police. In many cases, the victims are in a state of mental distress. In the past, the persons shot had often been carrying guns; today, those killed are predominantly armed with knives. This information and more can be found on a website on which CILIP is reprocessing its data on police fatal shootings, which it has been publishing since 1976.

Dangerous Places and the Defining Power of the Police
by Florian Krahmer

“Dangerous places” are special zones set up by the police which enable police officers to carry out measures against people even without concrete suspicion of a crime. They have repeatedly proven themselves venues of political conflict, and also constitute the testing grounds for new police measures.

Eurodac for the Western Balkan States?
by Lorenz Naegeli und Sophie Bisiaux

In countries of the Western Balkans such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, or Albania, the European Commission is financing systems for the collection of data on migrants. Frontex plays a key role in connecting and using these systems. On-site inquiries into biometric registration in these countries raises the question of whether the Dublin mechanism should be extended beyond the borders of the EU. This would constitute another step towards the externalization of European migration control.

#thinbluelineand Digital Community Policing on Instagram
by Forschungsgruppe Instacops (Research Group Instacops)

In Lower Saxony, the police run personalized accounts on Instagram under the hashtag #instacops. By using the hashtag #thinblueline, these accounts have been serving authoritarian and right-wing narratives which frame the police as defenders of society from anomie and chaos. Via Instagram, these narratives are finding their way into the police`s official public relations work in the digital space and are contributing to their normalization.

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