Offenbach: Complaints about racial profiling

  • Fabian Scheuermann

    fromFabian Scheuermann

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The Offenbach police reject allegations of discrimination. The Left criticizes that nobody knows which places in the city are allowed to be checked without suspicion.

The “Hexenpark” in Offenbach’s city center is a hidden place: Near the main train station, you have to follow winding paths in the backyard of an apartment block before you reach the small green area shaded by large trees. It is the perfect retreat in the middle of the dense city. Especially young people stay there.

“I have already noticed a number of police checks here,” reports a 27-year-old resident of the FR. She reports that “young men or young people read as migrants” are always checked. From her apartment she has also seen children being surrounded by the police: “I don’t think any German child from the village has ever had such an experience,” she says. In some places in Offenbach, such controls are the order of the day.

Reports like these have been used by the Left Party in Offenbach’s city parliament to ask the Offenbach municipal authorities, based on the example of a left-wing inquiry in Frankfurt, in which areas of the city the police are allowed to control regardless of suspicion – and where not.

“Dangerous Places”?

The classification as a “disreputable” or “dangerous” place gives the police the possibility of extensive identity determinations according to § 18 HSOG – without concrete suspicion.

At these locations For example, it can be known meeting places of criminals.

The review the responsible police authority, which must take into account changes in the crime situation, is responsible for the danger. fab

According to the Hessian Law on Public Safety and Order (HSOG), such controls may be carried out in places that are known to the police for criminal activities – for example because it is a meeting point for the drug scene.

The response of the magistrate that he does not know where such places are, criticizes the left as “problematic” – and calls for more transparency. To prevent “discrimination and arbitrary police force”. But also “to be able to prevent crime more effectively”, as the left city councilor Sven Malsy emphasizes.

When asked by the FR, the Offenbach police confirmed that there was no list or map showing where in the city checks could be carried out regardless of suspicion. “The officers decide for themselves,” says police spokesman Rudi Neu. The basis for the decision is the risk and crime situation.

There is no listing of dangerous places to be obtained from the Frankfurt police either. It says where controls are allowed to result from “police observations, reports from other authorities, crime statistics or reports from the population” collected over a longer period of time. On the subject of racial profiling, police spokesman Neu in Offenbach says: “Certain people are not being checked more intensely, more checks are being made in certain places.”

However, those places remain unknown to the public. The city councilor Malsy therefore demands: “People should know where they are exposed to unreasonable controls in case of doubt.” In fact, only a few cases of racial profiling are recorded throughout Hesse – in 2019 there were ten. This emerges from the figures that Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU) recently submitted to the request of an AfD MP.

The Offenbach market square is also apparently a danger zone.

© Rolf Oeser

The 24-year-old Haile B. from Eritrea (name changed) has a guess as to how the low numbers come about. He himself had often been “just like that” checked by the police in Offenbach and Frankfurt – he just never got the idea to complain to the same police about it. He strongly remembers an incident on Offenbach’s market square in 2017. In the midst of friends, he was – as the only one with dark skin – asked by the police to identify himself. The assumption: shoplifting. In the next room of a drugstore he was searched down to his underwear, says B. “Just being checked like that,” he says, “that doesn’t feel good.”

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