Riots in Berlin as Liebig 14 housing project eviction begins

Police turned up in force at 4am, as well as protesters – mainly residents from other housing projects on Rigaer strasse in a show of solidarity against the eviction, despite the below freezing temperatures.

The building at Liebigstraße 14 was formerly a squat, and became a housing project in 1990 following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

By 4:30am hundreds of protesters were outside Liebig 14, and at 5:00am police began to push them back in every direction. They also entered the surrounding buildings to gain access to the rooftops to monitor the situation as it unfolded.

One man was arrested and separated from his dog which police then tied to a metal fence down a side alley .

At 7:30am the police completely removed the press from within sight of the entrance to the building – at least 100 metres up the road. Vans were strategically positioned around the entrance to the squat so the media were blocked out. One policeman can be quoted as saying, “Today there is no fucking press freedom.” They were aggressive in pushing people back with many aggravated but ultimately unable to do anything to get the shots they wanted.

Just before 8:00am the police entered Liebig 14 through a window to the left of the main door. A battering ram and other tactical unit lined the streets – it was unclear what role they played however as they were out of sight.

At 8:15am the press were moved further back in a more aggressive manner.

Protesters began to run riot in the surrounding area, ending up on Frankfurter Allee before marching to Frankfurter Tor. Here riot police moved in trying to contain people with not much luck. Missiles in the form of rocks and bottles were thrown at the police, smashing on their helmets, whilst firecrackers disorientated some.

A number of arrests were made in a unnecessarily brutal fashion.

Tactical units in the form of armoured vehicles and water cannons turned up en masse, so much so that at one point all you could see were lines of police vehicles.

Most people began to leave the area around 10:00. Further action in solidarity with the residents of Liebig 14 is happening throughout the day.

The police managed to get into the basement and ground floor but are having issues progressing with the eviction as the residents removes the stairwell and have barricaded access from the roof. The fire brigade were also called as a bath tub was found full of water with electrical wires hanging out.

The residents of the housing project have been struggling with the owner of the building Suitbert Beulker and manager of child protection agency Unna, Edwin Thöne, over the termination of all the housing contracts. Negotiations with politicians to buy the house with the help of a foundation failed as they claimed they had no say in the matter.

Even politicians such as interior senator Erhard Körting and the senator for city development, Ingeborg Junge-Reyer who have been pushing a neo-liberal housing policy turned a blind eye and recently abolished rent benefits for people on unemployment benefits (Hartz IV). Holger Lippmann, manager of Liegenschaftsfonds (the Berlin real estate holding company), refused up to the end to negotiate honestly for an alternative space for the project.

Other housing projects in the area such as Rigaer 94 and nearby Køpi remain as self-governing free spaces.

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