Following allegations of violence levelled against the police in Chemnitz by an African family, a civil society organisation has launched a campaign against police brutality.
According to the accounts of Mark Kitau and Jackline Nadler, a Kenyan couple, they were brutalised by police officers on the night of 31 January in the eastern German city of Chemnitz. The media has reported extensively on the incident.
“We at Kenyan Women in Germany (KWIG) e.V. are moving against systemic racism and police violence in Chemnitz,” a statement issued by Pricilla Kebati on behalf of the group said.
“KWIG members and the Kenyan community are appalled, and we want to condemn this police brutality and want justice to prevail,” the statement added.
“It is sickening and terrifying to read the ever-increasing number of cases of fellow Africans who get mishandled by the German police and then it’s turned around to make it look like the victim is the perpetrator!”
The KWIG statement continued: “In most cases the violence used is not justifiable since the people involved are unarmed and have no history whatsoever of going against the law. We cannot just sit back and watch profiling mess around with our quality of life, yet we are law abiding and pay our taxes just like other residents of this country.”
The Chairlady of KWIG e.V., Mrs Jacky Kuhn, said “we relentlessly need to fight racism and discrimination – visible discrimination, of course, but also more subtle – in the justice system and law enforcement”.
“Our children need a safe place to live and when the perpetrators of the violence bring it into our houses, we do not know where to turn to,” she reiterated.
“The police are meant to uphold peace and provide for security. All the more the increasing brutality should be condemned by all means. We demand justice for the family Kitau.”
The KWIG statement said further: “Oury Jalloh’s case is today, almost 16 years down the line, still an allegation. Cases like this that get to see the light are just but a few. There are so many other uncountable cases that never see the light!
“Members of the Board of Directors of KWIG e.V. urge its members and those of the African, Black and People of Colour communities to join hands together to tackle structural racism in Germany and Europe at large. KWIG Members demand an end to police brutality in Germany.
“KWIG will be starting an online campaign #ISTANDWITH with the aim to reach as many people as possible, and also to demand that personal consequences should be taken against the police employees who were brutal.”
Policemen were very aggressive
Media reports on the incident say Mark Kitau and Jackline Nadler were celebrating their son’s birthday with family members when the police showed up at their door on 31 January.
A neighbour had called the law-enforcement agents ostensibly because they were noisy . During the first check, the officers found no violations of any regulations and left.
The police were called a second time and this time around things went awry.
“The second time, the policemen were very aggressive,” Nadler says. “They shouted at us for no reason.”
The police officers had noticed loud music and, with the family’s consent, entered the flat to establish the identity of the persons present, according to the Chemnitz police in a response to the inquiry of MDR SACHSEN.
Jackline Nadler said she had let the six police officers into her flat to prove that only the number of people allowed under the Corona Protection Ordinance was in the flat.
There were “heavily intoxicated”
According to the Chemnitz police, the “heavily intoxicated” Nadler refused to stop the party and insisted that she would continue to party. “As a further disturbance of public order by renewed noise was to be expected, the woman was threatened with detention (Unterbindungsgewahrsam),” Chemnitz police said. “As there were also no signs of calming down, the detention had to be enforced with immediate coercion.”
Nadler and Kitau give a completely different account of the events. Nadler admits that she had been drinking alcohol. However, she was not completely drunk. The police breath test showed 1.64 per mille.
“I asked the police officers to leave our flat because the children were afraid,” Nadler says. But they would comply with the request. Instead, Nadler and Kitau tell of how the officers locked their son, who was about to leave the bathroom, in it. The police state that they only touched Nadler. All other persons had remained calm.
“They just brutally handcuffed me without telling me why,” Nadler says. In the process, the officers had also pushed her daughter out of the way.
Stripped naked in front of men
The officers took Nadler to the police station. Kitau wanted to stand by his wife and followed her to the door. “The police officers kicked my foot several times and pushed me against the cupboard,” he says. The officers deny having touched Kitau.
At the police station, according to the Chemnitz police, two female officers searched the woman for self-protection. But Nadler says male officers were also present during her search. “I asked them why it wasn’t just the women doing it,” Nadler says. “I had to strip completely naked and there were men present.”
After some time in the cell, Nadler complained of severe pain in her wrist. She was then taken to the emergency room by the police and treated by doctors there.
From the hospital she could go home again. “I had no shoes and no jacket and it was minus eight degrees,” Nadler recalls. She begged the policemen to drive her home, she says. “But they said ‘You are Kenyan. You can all walk,'” Nadler says. Only after a long back and forth did the officers take her home.
“My wrist still hurts”
Two days later, Nadler and Kitau had a doctor’s appointment. “My wrist still hurts,” Nadler says. Kitau’s foot also swelled up a lot during the night. The doctor diagnosed a fracture, which was treated surgically at the beginning of February. Kitau believes the fracture was caused by the police officers kicking and pushing him. Even when asked, the Chemnitz police could not explain the injury. They stuck to their statement that they did not touch Kitau.
Nadler and Kitau decided to report the incident to the police.
Police investigate on suspicion of assault
The Chemnitz police had opened an investigation on suspicion of bodily harm. “We will talk to the persons concerned and the officers in order to investigate and clarify the incidents,” said the Chemnitz police when asked by MDR SACHSEN.
Migration official stunned by the allegations described
Etelka Kobuß, migration official of the city of Chemnitz, is stunned by the incident. “I have known the family for a long time,” she says. “They are decent people who have never attracted negative attention in any form.” She does not understand the police’s actions and cannot explain how the incident could have happened.
“Police officers must always react professionally and appropriately,” Kobuß said. She added that nothing could make up for this breach of trust and the mental state of those affected. “What matters now is how the police react to the incident. They will have to be judged on that.”
More about Kenyan Women in Germany e.V. at www.kwig.eu