Extremism: Mannheim: Thousands of people commemorate the dead police officer

Extremism: Mannheim: Thousands of people commemorate the dead police officer

Federal President Steinmeier laid a bouquet of flowers at the crime scene and paused with hundreds of people on the market square. Contrary to previous fears, the demonstrations remained calm.

A minute of silence. Then the bell in the tower of the Old Town Hall on Mannheim’s market square rings once. People start clapping, hesitantly at first, then more loudly. The mother of the killed police officer Rouven Laur bursts into tears. She stands with her husband and other relatives next to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU).

At 11:34 a.m., they and more than 1,500 people gathered on the square to remember the officer who was stabbed to death by a 25-year-old Afghan a week ago. Police officers across the country are remembering the 29-year-old who was fatally injured in the line of duty.

After speaking to police officers and Rouven Laur’s relatives, Steinmeier later described the knife attack as a “bloody act of terror”. The perpetrator had apparently acted from a political, presumably Islamist background.

In recent weeks, we have witnessed further “disgusting acts of politically motivated violence” with attacks on mayors, ministers, MPs and volunteers, says Steinmeier. “We, the democrats of this country, must never and will never get used to violence in political debates.”

Many people are still laying flowers at the crime scene. Renée Reichert, 33, came with his young son to light a candle, as he himself says. They want to commemorate Rouven Laur. “This is simply terrible,” says the 33-year-old about the crime. Later, representatives of the AfD regional association laid flowers and wreaths on the market square.

Significantly more counter-demonstrators

At a rally in Mannheim, many citizens also remembered the police officer who was killed. Posters with slogans such as “Against hate and incitement” were seen. The meeting under the motto “Mannheim stands together – for democracy and diversity” was called for by the German Trade Union Confederation and partners from democratic parties, religious communities and civil society. The event was followed by a demonstration by the alliance “Mannheim against the Right” at the same location in the second largest city in Baden-Württemberg.

The AfD originally wanted to demonstrate against Islamism on the market square in Mannheim – after a decision by the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, it had to move to the Paradeplatz. According to the police, around 700 people took part in the AfD rally that evening – but 3,300 counter-demonstrators opposed them. Police separated the participants of the two events from each other. The city of Mannheim had opposed the market square as a location for the AfD rally.

Five injured in the attack continue to suffer pain

The five people injured last Friday are still suffering from the aftermath a week after the attack, and are all still in pain, says Stefanie Kizina from Pax Europa. “We are all still in shock,” says the treasurer. “You pull yourself together, you have to process it first. (…) You have always lived in danger, but somehow you always assumed that nothing would happen, that it wouldn’t be that bad.” Board member Michael Stürzenberger had to go to hospital again because of the heavy blood loss caused by his injuries. The 59-year-old will definitely be out of action for four to eight weeks.

The movement will now pay even more attention to the safety of its members, says Kizina. “There will no longer be any events without protective barriers. The police officers are now keeping an even closer eye on us.”

The regional chairman of the German Police Union, Ralf Kusterer, is touched by the great sympathy for the death of Rouven Laur. However, anger is mixed in with the grief. “People are naturally disappointed,” he says of the mood among police officers. “The frustration with politicians is enormous.” After acts like these, there are extensive political discussions and demands, but ultimately nothing changes. For example, there needs to be concrete discussions about further training for police officers, about equipment for protection and for treating wounds after attacks.

Police officers involved in the operation receive psychological support

It is not known how the police officers involved in the operation are doing one week after the knife attack. A spokesman for the Mannheim police said they did not want to comment on the matter. The president of the Mannheim police headquarters, Ulrike Schäfer, only said on Tuesday: “Those who worked with Laur and were present at the fateful operation are currently receiving psychological support.” Interior Minister Strobl told the “Mannheimer Morgen” in a video statement that “people’s sense of security has been affected.” He expressed understanding for people’s fears after the fatal knife attack. “The police are very sad, but their work continues.”

The attacker was shot by a police officer during the attack. He underwent surgery for his injuries. The 25-year-old has not been able to be questioned in recent days. According to information from the German Press Agency, he came to Germany as a teenager in 2013 and applied for asylum. The application was rejected in 2014. However, a deportation ban was imposed, presumably because of his young age. The perpetrator last lived in Heppenheim in Hesse with his wife and two small children. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the investigation into the case.

The Mannheim police are planning a public memorial service for the fatally injured police officer on June 14. It will take place in the Rosengarten Congress Center, the police headquarters announced. Since space is limited, only relatives, invited guests and employees of the Mannheim police headquarters will be able to attend.

As a consequence of the fatal knife attack, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants to make it possible to deport serious criminals to Afghanistan and Syria again. In his government statement yesterday, the Chancellor did not say exactly how he intends to implement this.

Source: Stern

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