Defending our right to assembly

The person who gave her name (“Anmelderin” / registering an assembly at public order office) for our 5-hour rally on 8 March 2021 in front of the Interior Senate received a penalty order for 40 daily fines last year because she did not announce the assembly requirements in time on that day and because she did not take sufficient care to change the plastic bags over the microphone frequently. A policewoman had reported her. Since we did not accept the absurd and completely exaggerated penalty order, the case went to trial yesterday in the Bremen district court. In and outside the courtroom we claimed that an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. An attack against our organising and our common struggles for residence papers in Bremen. Up to 100 people stood together with us at times in the rain. After three hours the result came: no acquittal. The verdict: “30 daily sentences at 30 Euros on probation. Condition: 250 euros donation to a refugee organisation”. The charge of changing plastic bags was dropped. We document our speech.

We have also decided to go public with supporting this trial of our friend today, because the criminalization of her for putting her name for the rally on March 8 last year is not the only case of attacking our freedom of assembly.

It is not the only case in which petty administrative actions and pseudo-bureaucratic games try to hinder the resistance of those who organize in Together we are Bremen.

Foto: TWAB

Chapter 1: From Social distancing to the fight for birth certificates

As you know, Together we are Bremen was one of the few groups that did not reduce its activities during the Corona lockdown, but had to increase them dramatically.

Since many of our members live in the camps their health was directly affected.

Social distancing fell flat exactly where people were and are in particularly vulnerable situations. Instead of immediately guaranteeing people shelters in individual rooms, flutter tape was tied around the playground and other absurdities were organized.

Who ever cared that many people were again and again locked into quarantine for weeks because another person from the same hallway kept testing positive?

So the Shut down Lindenstraße campaign started...and the name of Lindenstraße got known far beyond the reach of Bremen.

The movement grew, became stronger and in the summer of 2020 the women from Lindenstraße, Friedrich Rauers Straße and Alfred Faust Straße had long since organized themselves.

Together they began to make their anger visible in front of the Bremen registry office. The anger and despair about why they were stuck in the camps for so long in the first place.

It had long been clear by then that the problem of birth certificates not being issued was not a personal problem, but a structural one.

Why are black mothers treated as liars just because they come from Nigeria or Ghana? Why are they accused of being too old to have a child while not yet married? Why is their private sphere poked around? Why are their children, who are just as German as others, sometimes denied a birth certificate for up to 2 years?

It is surely no coincidence that exactly in the place where the persons concerned themselves pointed out the so obvious structural racism, the administrative officials started to counter attack. This is what happened with the criminal case “plastic bag” because of which we are standing before the court today.

But that was not the only one…

Chapter 2: In front of the Migration Office

Two weeks after that rally in front of the Interior Senate we were again on the streets. This time in front of the Migration Office. Here we tried again to point out the entanglements in the defensive actions of those authorities.

We demanded: Legalize now! Papers for all.

The moderator of the rally summed it up:

“What you are preaching, what you write in your constitution, in your papers, are all different from what you are doing. From the way you are treating us. You don’t treat us equally.“

Shortly after the protest, our moderator, who was formally the leader of the rally, was personally served a letter from the Landeskriminalamt, Department of “Politically Motivated Crime Right-Wing/Left-Wing/Foreign Extremism,” in typical intimidation fashion. Preliminary proceedings had been opened. Reproach: insufficient keeping of distance during the assembly.

Chapter 3: Registry office June

When we finally mobilized again to the registry office in June after tough negotiations that led nowhere, the Office of Public Order tried to stop the protest in advance. Weddings, so we learned now, may be disturbed under no circumstances by demonstrations.

And generally our demonstrations were much too loud. After several postponements we finally pushed through our planned protest, but then the cops stood demonstratively the whole time with the volume meter in front of the loudspeaker box.

Chapter 3: Schüsselkorb / SPD

Again one month later, in July 2021 we mobilized in front of the party headquarters of the SPD at Schüsselkorb.

Once again Ordnungsamt was trying to restrict the protest of TWAB. This time it went ridiculous because we should stand behind several transporter vans on the sidewalk/Bürgersteig opposite to the office. As a reaction to this we finally called for a spontaneous demonstration to Domsheide and Marktplatz. When basic rights are restricted and voices are not heard the streets are the only place to make our demands visible: Papers for all. Dignity for all.

Shortly after, the third member of TWAB, the activist who put her name this time received a letter from the police: Preliminary proceedings had been opened. Reproach: not sticking to the orders of Ordnungsamt.

Both preliminary proceedings were dropped relatively shortly afterwards.

Together we are Bremen has not stopped taking to the streets since then.

At the moment we demonstrate every second Thursday in front of the social welfare office and demand to stop the transfers.

Criminal are not those who organize and fight for a safe place to live and a future after having risked and lost so much already.

Criminal are not those who are active for participation, freedom of movement, against all oppression and a safe life for all.

Criminal are those who kill and let die at the borders.

Criminal are those who hide behind decrees and supposed orders and do not fight administrations and systems from the inside.