Protest as a police problem. Granting and damaging a fundamental right
by Norbert Pütter

Demonstrations and political actions in public spaces regularly lead to police operations. According to the prevailing legal doctrine, the police must protect the fundamental right to freedom of assembly, ward off threats to public safety or order and prosecute criminal offences. These different objectives result in considerable scope for police action, which can determine the forms, effects and consequences of the protest. A number of major events are used as examples to illustrate how the police, involved in political processes and the threat of criminal sanctions, curtail the freedom of assembly.

Enactment as police training. On the sensory mediation of protest policing
by Andrea Kretschmann

Over the last 50 years, training for public order policing – including training in the area of ‚protest‘ – has become highly professionalised worldwide. Enactments of possible operational situations characterise the exercises in such a way that possible operational situations are simulated in specially built urban dummies. Due to its particularly sensual character, this communication of protest policing has a high socially constitutive impact. This becomes a problem if – as appears to be the case with the current dominant orientation of the training – demonstrations are seen less as the exercise of civil rights and more as dangerous disorder.

Affective atmospheres. On the policing of emotions in crowds
by Stephanie Schmidt

The assessment of moods and atmospheres plays a central role in police dealings with crowds. The police assumes that certain moods encourage affective dynamics that lead to violent confrontations. They therefore use certain techniques to create, manage or change moods and affective atmospheres. Using examples from ethnographic research, the text is dedicated to these atmospheric techniques and the policing of emotions in crowds.

The police as a protest actor. The influence of the police on assemblies
by Daniela Hunold

Public discourse shapes the way in which social movements and political actors mobilise their skills and resources to pursue and bring about political goals and change. Protest policing has a direct influence on this discourse and on the course of protests. In this context, the question arises as to what extent the policing of protest produces unequal treatment and what this is due to, as assemblies are essential for a living democracy and require special protection

The policing of indigenous protests. Special repression against special rights
by Sonja John

For 150 years, the Canadian Federal Police have been enforcing the interests of private industrial companies against the resistance of the population. In the past decade, demonstrations by environmental groups and First Nations in particular have become the target of questionable long-term surveillance. The article analyses new surveillance methods such as the establishment of centres for cooperation between state authorities and private companies, against which those affected can hardly defend themselves.

40 years of observation of demonstrations. Taking stock of a radical-democratic practice
by Tina Keller and Elke Steven

Shortly after its foundation, the Fundamental Rights Committee established the instrument of demonstration observation to protect the fundamental right to freedom of assembly. Close observation of the various events is the basis for their contextualization in the political backstory and their evaluation, based on a fundamental understanding of basic rights and democracy. After more than 40 years, we put the experiences to the test and come to the conclusion that it remains necessary as a radical democratic tool for the defence of freedom of assembly.


Escort guard for journalists. When press work is not possible without protection
Interview with the Between the Lines initiative

According to the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, demonstrations are considered the most dangerous workplace for media professionals – 80 percent of attacks on journalists occur there, 60 percent of them at gatherings related to coronavirus, particularly frequently in Saxony. The attacks are part of a radicalisation in the aversion to the press and a normalisation of anti-press narratives in society at large. To protect themselves, media professionals are increasingly being accompanied by security personnel during their work. In an interview with Stephanie Schmidt, the volunteer escort initiative Between the Lines talks about their work and their experiences with attacks on journalists.

The police in research funding. Police in the context of „civil security research“
by Norbert Pütter

Since 2007, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has spent 840 million Euros on the framework programme „Research for Civil Security“. An exemplary evaluation of the programme shows that the police are involved in around a third of the funded projects. Police organisations at federal and state level are involved in research projects to varying degrees. The focus is on projects that aim to utilise technical progress, in particular information technology, for police work. Collaboration in research has created a network of science, police and the private sector that understands security as a technocratically producible state.

Cloudy view into the crystal ball. Police data mining must be restricted
by Dirk Burczyk

In its ruling of 16 February 2023, the Federal Constitutional Court declared police regulations on automated data analysis to be permissible in principle, but subjected their application to stricter criteria. This also created guidelines for the prospective nationwide use of software for predictive policing. Fundamental questions remain unanswered.

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