The following three articles describe the crime, violence, and sexual harassment that young culture-enriches habitually engage in at German shopping malls. The first article is from Berlin, and is recent; the other two are from Kiel and were published in February. Many thanks to Egri Nök for the translations.
First, from the Berliner Morgenpost, May 18 2016:
Assaults, Sexual harassment also in Boulevard Berlin in Steglitz
Sexual harassments took place not only at the Carnival of Cultures. For weeks, youths have been attacking customers and staff.
Sexual abuse or harassment did not occur only at the Carnival of Cultures in Kreuzberg [district of Berlin]. According to information obtained by the Berliner Morgenpost, bullying and sexual harassment of customers has also been going on for weeks at the mall Boulevard Berlin on Schloßstraße in Steglitz [district of Berlin]. This emerges from documents available to the Morgenpost.
Up to 35 young people have reportedly been meeting for several weeks on the second floor of the shopping center. Most of them have an immigrant background. According to eyewitness reports, the young people are staying there, among other reasons, because there is free Internet access.
As has emerged only now, for this reason there was a meeting of security service and police. At a site visit in the mall, the parties noticed two young men who had previously been banned. When the two young men with Turkish background were asked to leave the building by the police officers, a store detective, and the chief of the security service, a verbal fight began.
First, the 15- and 17-year-old youths insulted the officers. Then one of them made a phone call to his friends and told them about “problems with the cops”. During the filing of the complaint, more and more youths arrived, badgering, insulting and swearing at the officers. The danger became so massive that one of the officers had to threaten the usage of pepper spray. He notified more forces.
Subsequently, on the ground floor of the shopping mall it evolved into an attempted prisoner liberation, resistance to the officers, and alleged breach of the peace. On Tuesday, police were unable to confirm if there were charges for sexual harassment.
Currently there are seven complaints by eight women for the Carnival of Cultures. The women, according to police, are between 16 and 48 years old. They all described their tormentors as young men with southern looks. The women were circled by a group of men while dancing in front of the stage, touched their intimate areas – on the breast, the buttocks and the crotch. No women were injured.
The Interior Senator for Berlin, Frank Henkel (CDU) condemned the assaults: “This humiliating and misogynistic behavior is repulsive and criminal,” said Henkel. He pointed out that the police took the problem of the so-called “Antänzer” [mob dancing] very seriously. “Previously on April 1 2016, we formed a six-person strong task force ‘Antänzer’,” said Henkel. The aim of the investigators is to convict multiple offenders.
According to the police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf, during those four days in Kreuzberg 29 thefts were reported and investigations were initiated on 22 suspects. Also, four acts of “Antänzer” with the aim of theft were reported. “We arrested seven men who do not have permanent residence and who all come from North African states,” says Neuendorf. Three were from Tunisia, two from Morocco, one from Algeria, and another from Libya. There are arrest warrants for all seven of them.
From the Kieler Nachrichten, on February 26, 2016:
Mass assault in mall Sophienhof in Kiel
Large scale police operation in the Sophienhof in Kiel: Two asylum seekers from Afghanistan harassed three young women aged 15, 16 and 17 years on Thursday afternoon. When the girls fled, around 30 men chased them. […] Apparently, the pursuit of the girls is only the tip of the iceberg. Business people from the Sophienhof report a rising number of thefts. Customers are being harassed time and again.
Chronology of Events
The police are still investigating. According to the latest information, what happened is this:
- Three young women aged 15, 16 and 17 were first observed at around 5:30pm by two men of Afghan background, and then chased. The 19- and 26-year-old asylum seekers living in Kiel photographed or filmed the young women with their mobile phones in the restaurant area of the shopping mall. Then they sent those recordings with their smart phones.
- The group grew to 30 people, all of whom, according to eyewitnesses, had a migration background. The girls continued to be harassed. But there were no physical assaults. Frightened, two of the three girls ran away and managed to evade about ten pursuers. They were worried, however, and returned to their friend. There the two main perpetrators arrived again and started harassing them.
- Passersby had observed what happened and called the security, who instantly called the police. When the officers attempted to determine what happened, they were massively insulted, threatened and some were injured. Around 7:30 pm, the Sophienhof calmed down. The two main suspects and two further suspects were temporarily arrested. The main perpetrators spent the night in police custody. On Friday, they had to be released because of lack of evidence. They have permanent residence in Kiel. The medical officer was also insulted and threatened by the two men.
- A task force of police, supported by criminal police, began investigations. They are looking into surveillance camera recordings from the Sophienhof and the mobile phones of the accused.
Also from the Kieler Nachrichten, February 27, 2016:
In the evenings, trouble starts
“Trends, Events and gourmet variety: Sophienhof is shopping delight for the whole family!” This is how the shopping mall in Kiel advertises itself on its homepage. But it appears, the world there is not quite that idyllic.
Kiel. Many business people lament the thefts and harassment of customers that have noticeably risen over the last months. Only two weeks ago, the management of the mall boosted the security service, and they plan to further increase it after the significant harassment of three young women by around twenty young men on Thursday evening.
The recent problems in the mall seem to increase in the evenings. The Sophienhof mall closes at 8 pm. A lot of the people working in the shops that we talked to on Friday said that the security situation worsens during the hours before closing. The employee of a leather goods shop, in front of which last Thursday’s incident took place, says: “From around 7pm almost every day several groups of four, five young men, all of them apparently with a migration background, gather here. Sometimes there are up to 30 people, from 15 to mid- and late-20s. Recently, there have been more and more. It does scare me. I just don’t feel safe there anymore. So for the past few weeks, my brother picks me up from work.”
In a nearby clothing shop, the two employees report that “practically every day” the area around the rear escalators “turns into a hot spot”. The thefts in the shop have markedly increased since around New Year’s: “Small groups of men come in, no more than 20 years old. A few of them distract us, and behind our backs, they steal.”
A staff member of a restaurant, who came “from the Arab world” decades ago himself, says: “They are here now practically every evening. From their accents, I can hear that nearly all of them are Syrians.” Then the man complains with distress about their behavior: “What they are doing here is not proper. As soon as they see a young women who wears a skirt, or some kind of open clothing, they believe they have a free ticket. One should educate them — that things are different here than back at their homes.”
Also, the broad passage [from the shopping mall] to the [street] Holstentörn (near the former “Little Duke”) has apparently become a problem area. There the department store Karstadt offers free WLAN for three hours every day, which, especially towards evening, is used by a large group of young men. A Karstadt employee, who has been keeping an eye on this area for a long time, says: “We are experiencing since the end of last year many difficult situations. In the evenings, at times unbelievably numerous people hang about here. Sometimes the young foreigners jostle elderly people. They harass young women, chat them up, grope them, slap them on the behind. They also have verbally abused young people and spat at them.” All of this had “such a macho aspect,” the lady says. “They engage in disrespectful behaviour when they walk in groups.”