Around 30 police officers and customs officials checked a restaurant in the Neukölln district of Berlin in early December. The officials take a criminal complaint and administrative offenses. Alone: The regulatory office is not there. His manager, district councilor Sarah Nagel (left), has forbidden her employees to cooperate - officially because of possible constitutional problems.
The so-called joint operations, in which the police carry out trade inspections together with the public order office, customs and tax investigators, are aimed specifically at organized crime. However, the left-wing politician Nagel also sees them as an instrument of racist stigmatization, which is why the accusation of a politically motivated decision is now being raised.
After Nagel's actions became known, there was a cross-party call for consequences. The FDP even sees a "security risk for the district and the state of Berlin" and submitted an emergency motion to the district assembly last week to put a possible deselection on the agenda. But although this just missed the majority, the question arises as to how long the left-wing politician can continue on her course - and what problems she poses to the district.
"Such decisions do not control specific facts," criticizes district mayor Martin Hikel (SPD) to WELT. The joint operations, also known as the "strategy of a thousand needle pricks", are based on the idea of prosecuting even the smallest crimes and administrative offenses - "to keep the pressure up", as they say.
Such an assignment takes place in Neukölln on average every two weeks. Hikel emphasizes: "Basically, the vast majority of tradespeople in Neukölln work hard and honestly." But only if the black sheep are identified can the vast majority go about their business in peace without being placed under general suspicion.
City councilor Nagel seems to suspect the danger of such a general suspicion. She emphasizes to WELT that the discussion about structural discrimination played no role in her decision. She forbade cooperation in the operation in the restaurant, "because a mixture of commercial surveillance with other goals such as obtaining information from the police could not be ruled out".
However, it is questionable whether her critical attitude towards the missions was of secondary importance in her decision. Even before her election, Nagel announced that she wanted to end so-called clan raids. "We have long been calling for the stigmatizing raids on shisha bars and late night shops to end," said Nagel around autumn 2021. The city councilor therefore now reserves the right to prohibit the public order office from being involved in individual cases - even if the district itself asks the police for administrative assistance, as was the case recently with the inspection of the restaurant. According to the police, the operation took place after employees of the restaurant had denied the public order office access during a previous check.
The left finds it "stigmatizing" when shisha bars are raided. Neukölln's city councilor Sarah Nagel (left) has now prohibited use in a high-priced restaurant. "At the municipal level, crackdown on organized crime is being thwarted," says Gunnar Schupelius.
During the control, people fled to the neighboring park via the adjacent underground car park. According to further information, the area of the underground car park is to be used for illegal gambling.
Nagel's decision appears to have gone down badly among her own employees, according to statements by a member of the district administration who wished to remain anonymous. If you believe his descriptions, there is a lack of understanding among the employees. "Nagel's behavior is viewed critically by the majority. The mood is bad.”
On the other hand, Nagel is definitely on the party line with her line: the left-wing faction in the Berlin House of Representatives announced last week that they want to work in the governing coalition to fundamentally redesign trade surveillance in the state of Berlin in order to organize them again “effectively, broadly effective and non-discriminatory”. According to the decision, trade surveillance must be outsourced from the responsibility of the police and transferred to the responsibility of the Senate Department for Economics.
Forbidding the regulatory office to no longer take part in the operations is viewed critically in the district town hall. "The participation of the public order office in joint operations was and is not illegal," says Hikel. Hikel also rejects the accusation from the left that the trade controls are a racist practice. “This accusation of racism is nonsensical. Behind this is a fundamental skepticism towards the police and other regulatory authorities, which I absolutely do not share.
The CDU district chairman Falko Liecke sees primarily political reasons for Nagel's decision: "If the Neukölln district office, as a regulatory authority, no longer performs its tasks in specific individual cases because there are political reservations, that is a major problem for the regulatory authority's ability to work," said Love the WORLD. "Without anticipating the investigation: If the perpetrators from the clan milieu can feel safe thanks to political support, that is definitely a security risk."
Comparable statements and calls for tough action by the security authorities must also be interpreted under the impression of the upcoming election rerun in Berlin in February. The fact that the CDU abstained from voting on the emergency motion last week was commonly understood as an election campaign maneuver in order to be able to continue using the topic in the new year.
SPD, Greens and FDP had approved the application, the Left voted against it. A deselection will now probably be decided in March. "The CDU is ready to vote the city councilor out of office if the indications of politically motivated influence are confirmed," says Liecke.
Above all, it will be exciting how the Greens decide. They had agreed to the emergency request, but given priority so that the topic was "cleared" before the election, as a spokeswoman told WELT. The parliamentary group demands from City Councilor Nagel a “catalogue of criteria, which should serve as a basis for necessary, on the basis of suspicion indicated and thus non-discriminatory controls”.
However, Nagel leaves it open what joint operations could look like in the future, including with the participation of the public order office: "This is currently being discussed internally." decided on a case-by-case basis.
However, circles in the district office say that another operation planned for this year will also take place without a regulatory office. The most likely solution at the moment: A direct instruction from the district office to the regulatory office drawn up by the college. It would amount to a de facto disempowerment of Nagel – even without being voted out.
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