From the Series: Europe is Hot, Berlin is on Fire!!!
Friedrichshain, Berlin is in the midst of rapid gentrification and some people, like those living at Rigaer Str. 94, Keepers of the Rigaer, are not happy. Rundown, derelict properties are undergoing non-stop renovations in a bid to beautify neighbourhoods, hoping to offer relaxed living in the heart of the city, at a huge expense to owners who wish to live there themselves, or rent out for international city rates. Squatters against the world – contentious, belligerent, moot.
The Rigaer Straβe 94 squatters oppose development advances and have made their opposition clear. Although all of the areas surrounding this building block have been successfully restored, house number 94 has remained an island of controversy. They have taken to fighting for their cause by means of media, demonstrations and lawyers, at times escalating to violence.
Unbelievably, the people causing this chaos do not own the building, they are squatters who in addition to living almost rent free, run a non-tax paying pub. The houses, were originally vacant and subsequently occupied in 1990. Since then, there has been a vicious circle of occupation, evictions followed by renovations, followed again by occupation.
Neighbourhood clashes, riots and damage has, although not daily, become a norm. By January 2012, what before were for the most part, peaceful demonstrations, escalated and 51 policemen were injured in the Rigaer riots. Since then, more organised demonstrations, arson – mainly cars, gentrified buildings damaged and of course, lots of graffiti.
On July 9, 2016, a whopping 1500 – 3000 (depending on the report) supporters for the squatters turned out to demonstrate against the continuous police presence. What started out as a peaceful rally, gradually escalated to aggressive. Masked participants screaming “Pigs get out of Rigaer”, reverted to violence, throwing bottles, stones and firecrackers. Shop windows were destroyed, cars damaged and or set on fire; 123 officers were injured and 86 demonstrators were arrested of which 84 were later released and 2 remain in custody.
Balu and Aaron, as of this date, are still in jail. They have been charged with evading arrest, disguise with intent, resisting arrest, grievous bodily harm and violating the explosives act.
The Rigaer squatters say the police are to blame for the escalation, that they were confrontational. Blu and Aaron have been relegated to martyr status. Time and effort is now being put into spreading the word of their “wrongful incarceration” and trying to raise money for the legal fight. But always using the plight to cry about their repression and struggles on the Rigaer Street in Berlin.
No matter how much these far left Keepers of the Rigaer think they are correct and or have right, Violence can never be condoned. Just my opinion.
FAZ Frankfurter Allgemeine
Rigaer Proponents – Solidarity with Aaron & Balu
Defend Rigaer 94
Aaron & Balu – Their Side
Foreign Travel Advice – UK Government
Alerts and Warnings – USA Government