A few thoughts about solidarity and violence

german version
The following text was published on the 2nd May 2014 at hambacherforst.blogsport.de. After an incident were the police came into the forest with a century to evict some tents and at the same time one f their cars lost the windows. After this happened there was a lot of mass media shitwere – without evidence – the terrorists” of the occupation were blamed to act in a really violent way. Followed by this many citizens put ressure on the occupation to dissociate from such acts or they would cut the solidarity. This text is what followed ll this happenings.

Recently, some voices came up that – built up from several newspaper articles – question the camp (the occupation of the meadow next to the forest). Above all the alleged aggressiveness of activists and the demolishing of a police car which is being attributed to the occupation were criticized. That is why we came together some days ago to talk about this topic.

These first two points in advance:
On the one hand there is no collective “We”. The constellation of people at the occupation is constantly changing and the entire movement is fortunately very diverse and will not and can not be unified.
On the other hand it is very difficult to define the term and the concept of violence – about this there exist already many different ideas.
Therefore, this text does not claim to to be to universally applicable for the entire movement but rather tries to contribute to the discussion.

First of all, we want to share what opinions and questions have been raised in our meeting.
Is, for example, violence against things generally violence? Can’t it even be irresponsible to refrain from violence if by using it worse could be prevented? Is a person automatically nonviolent if he_she doesn’t take any weapons or doesn’t fight with the own hands?
Isn’t it also violence to pay others to hurt people? Or to oppress people? What does it mean then to buy clothes which were produced by children or sick people under pressure? Or to buy meat for which living beings are all their lifes tortured and then murdered? Is it illegitimate to prevent greater violence even if this means that you have to use a certain extent of violence yourself? Is it illegitimate to defend somebody so that this person doesn’t suffer violence even if this means that this protecting requires violence? What is self-defense? Who decides about this? How much power have those who decide about it?
On the other hand was also stated that actions such as the demolishing of police cars can be counterproductive because it negatively reflects on the occupation and creates more waste. And we asked ourselves as well whether we can achieve anything with violence. Because finally the police is superior in numbers, has more resources and power and does also have the jurisdiction on their side. Some of us are also afraid that any defensive violence could lead to more violence of the other side.

However, it can also be very hard not to fight back when the police beats you up and / or you are daily confronted with the destruction caused by RW€. It is useful and important for the emotional well-being not to be defenseless in a violent situation. Post-traumatic stress reactions can occur when you impotently have face an attack (f.e. when fight or flight is not possible) – and often activists are struggling with this after a contact with the police. Thus, it can have long and serious consequences if man does not fight back. Or does it really just lead to more police brutality?
Many were angry or sad about the fact that the responses to an alleged attack by squatters at a thing are so negative whilst police violence is often hardly even noticed. Even though police violence often means brutal beatings, imprisonment and torture.

It is also repeatedly shocking how one-sided the press reports: It has not been proved who smashed the windows of the car. Apparently none of the journalist thought that it would be necessary to go to the occupation in order to get a second opinion. Nevertheless the articles are considered by many to be “the truth”. This is even more astonishing if one considers the fact that directly next to one of these articles some RW€ advertisement was published: Who gets money apparently has no interest in building up an opinion as open and as objective as possible. Somehow it is also not surprising that the violence carried out by RW€ is often ignored: An (apparently) 82km² big hole is being dredged, a beautiful old forest is being destroyed forever, people are being relocated and noone gives a damn about the heavy consequences for the humans but also for the nature as a whole. Nevertheless, those who try to resist all this with the few resources they have are being criminalized or apparently even feared.
Too bad …

With all this of cause I don’t want to say that it is not understandable if people for example feel intimidated by persons wearing masks. Nevertheless, unfortunately this is often necessary because of self-protection. It happens that the police uses pictures to identify person. And this can mean that the person concerned ha to face charges even if the only “crime” consists in having made a walk in the woods. The imagination of the police is great in this respect and in terms of credibility in front of the mass media and a court the police is also privileged. Activists don’t just wear masks for fun and certainly also not to intimidate people – least of all with these temperatures! (This text was composed in bright sunshine and more than 20 degrees)

In one newspaper article it was also mentioned that squatters had set up traps inside the forest.
Such cases are not known. This allegation we hold rather for another strategy to criminalize protest. If we build barricades or trenches we always make sure that they are clearly marked and pedestrians can unhindered enjoy the forest.
We are not on this camp to use violence but to do something about it. We are committed to the preservation of nature and villages. The destruction emanates from others.
The occupation is meant to be a place of solidarity with humans and the nature – and we hope that it will also be seen as such the future.
More criticism, suggestions and opinions are of course still welcome and we would also be very happy to continue this discussion with you here on the meadow.

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