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Cock comment leads to crackdown on climate activists

The statement “You’re such a dick” triggered a house search last summer. A similar raid has now taken place in Augsburg. The climate activist Alexander Mai had linked a photo of the Pimmel scandal on Facebook in October – under a post by AfD politician Andreas Jurca, the party’s parliamentary group leader in Augsburg city council.

The AfD politician obviously felt offended by this and filed a complaint against the activist. The Augsburg police searched Mai’s apartment last Tuesday. The main task of the “State Security” department is to combat politically motivated crime. The officials also confiscated private devices belonging to the activist who works for the Augsburg climate camp. The responsible lawyer describes this as disproportionate.

“It was obviously not an insult”

Screenshot of Jurca’s Facebook post in October 2021. – All rights reserved Authors of the blog Pimmelgate South.

In order to provide information about the incident, a separate website was quickly set up called pimmelgate-süd.de. In the imprint is the Augsburg Fridays For Future activist Ingo Blechschmidt. Mai introduces himself there as a 26-year-old climate activist, mathematics student and IT developer.

The activists on the website describe the AfD politician’s Facebook post as “xenophobic and misogynistic”. In the newspaper article linked below from May, a preview image with the words “Andy, you’re such a dick” could be seen.

The fact that a house was searched months later came as a complete surprise to the climate activist. “I didn’t expect that at all,” he says in an interview with netzpolitik.org. “It was obviously not an insult.” The police confiscated his work laptop and smartphone.

From the dick comment to the police operation

The incident is strongly reminiscent of a scandal last September. At that time, officials searched the home of the alleged author of a tweet. In the tweet, Hamburg Interior Senator Andy Grote (SPD) was referred to as “pimmel”. This went through the media as “Pimmelgate” and became a meme at times. House search for a genital comparison? Behind this is the larger question of potential abuse of power by politically powerful people – and the lack of proportionality of police operations.

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In any case, the responsible climate camp lawyer Martina Sulzberger considers the house search to be “disproportionate”. After all, Mai wrote the post under real names and it is therefore obvious who is responsible for the post. “It is also questionable whether linking to an article, in this case with the context of all the comments, is an insult at all,” Sulzberger told netzpolitik.org. Mai linked the photo without personally addressing the AfD politician, as can be seen from a corresponding screenshot.

The police chief inspector Christina Meissl of the responsible police headquarters justifies the raid at the request of netzpolitik.org. The police initiate investigations to clarify the facts as soon as they become aware of the suspicion of a crime.

Police are said to have refused a phone call to a lawyer

The actions of the police are also being criticized because Mai was apparently not allowed to contact his lawyer during the house search. This should show a police search report that was published on pimmelgate-süd.de. It says: “The person concerned (…) is dissatisfied with the fact that he is not allowed to make calls for the duration of the measure”. Police Chief Inspector Meissl rejects the accusation that Mai could not have called. She says the climate activists were offered a police smartphone.

According to Section 137 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the person concerned is entitled to a telephone call during a house search. Criminal defense attorney Thomas Penneke writes on his website:

The police often pronounce a telephone ban during the house search. If you want to call your lawyer, the ban is unlawful. Don’t let this put you off.

Sulzberger also considers her client’s alleged telephone ban to be “illegal”. Sulzberger and Mai reserve the right to take action against the search warrant or the behavior of the police.

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“We have nothing to hide”

The house search affects not only Mai himself, but also his friends and family. After all, the competent public prosecutor’s office can access all of the student’s current contacts via the student’s technical devices. “Some of the non-activist contacts will not find it cool that they are now with the police with their name and number,” says Mai.

The climate activist finds it nonsensical that the police confiscated his technical equipment for investigations. “Our structures are free and open to the public, so we have nothing to hide,” says Mai. “The police could have found out the information without confiscating my devices.” He sees the greater damage in the fact that all his devices are gone, which also prevents him from doing his work.

The climate movement hopes for social discourse

The Augsburg Climate Camp and Fridays For Future are behind Mai. On pimmelgate-süd.de they provide the context for a series of other incomprehensible investigations by the state security department. Mai says: “The police are waiting for such an opportunity to take action against us as a climate movement.” Meissl says the search was in no way related to Mai’s activities in the climate movement.

According to the climate activists, the state security department has been following its activities in Augsburg for more than two years. So far, they have not disclosed these cases publicly. But the current Pimmelgate-Süd case prompted the group to publish “disproportionate repression” from now on and, if necessary, to file complaints about supervision.

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Mai is hoping for a major public discourse on police action against climate activists. He says: “I’m not necessarily concerned with my specific case, but that we have to be careful that the thresholds for the police are not getting lower and lower in order to take action against people like us.”

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