The situation during Silvesternacht (New Year’s Eve) at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was considerably worse than originally reported. Almost four times as many sexual assaults were reported to the police by Friday.
The following article is careful not to refer to ethnicity when discussing the groping incidents. However, the need for “multilingual brochures” as a preventive measure gives us a clue about the culturally enriched nature of what occurred that night.
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Sexual Assaults in Silvester Night — Police revise numbers upwards
by Felix Hackenbruch
January 6, 2017
There were at least 22 cases of sexual assaults during the Silvester Party at the Brandenburg Gate. Victims were also isolated from groups and assaulted.
The number of sexual assaults during the Silvester Party at the Brandenburg Gate has increased almost fourfold, it appears. After the police on New Year’s Day announced there were six cases of sexual harassment, as of Friday the number increased to 22 criminal complaints. All offenses took place in the party area between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. The police had this information on Thursday, but only released it on Friday at the request of Tagesspiegel.
“In most cases, the victims were touched on the buttocks and between their legs,” one speaker said. In at least ten cases, the offenders approached victims and isolated them from groups. The police, for the protection of victims, did not disclose whether the victims were exclusively women, but in four cases, the victims were minors. Four suspects could be determined. The police did not release any further information on them.
1,700 police officers watched over the Silvester party
The 22 criminal complaints do not include all of the cases of which the police spoke on New Year’s Day. Some of these did not take place in the party area, but on the way there. Another case of an exhibitionist, who exposed himself to a woman, was not included in the 22 complaints, as the police report. It was reported on New Year’s Day that all incidents happened independently of each other. The police could not confirm whether this also applies to the additional cases.
“This is a terrible and regrettable development,” Anja Marx, a spokesman for the event, says. To her, sexual assaults at public events are a new phenomenon. “We saw this last year for the first time, but there were only two cases,” says Marx.
After the attack on Breitscheidplatz [the Christmas market jihad attack], 1,700 police officers watched over the Silvester party, and armored vehicles blocked the access roads. In addition 600 security personnel for the organizer were on duty, and there were surveillance cameras at the entry points and around the stage. “Our security concept worked out,” says Marx, and refers to two dismissals and two immediate arrests after sexual harassment.
“We must take this seriously; it cannot be ignored”
The domestic spokesman for the CDU, Burkard Dregger, called the new figures a “different dimension”. “we have to take this seriously; it cannot be ignored.” He renewed his demand for more video surveillance in the public space. “If we want to take citizens’ concerns seriously, then we have to implement controlled video recording,” he said in reference to the latest successful manhunt of the police after video stills had been released. It was negligent not to use these tools. “Cameras do not threaten US, but attackers and criminals.”
Sven Kohlmeier, an internal expert for the SPD, regretted the higher number of victims too. “Each case is one too many.” Unfortunately, at large events, there were encroaching men. The problem cannot be solved by video surveillance, says Kohlmeier. “I hope Mr. Dregger does not demand more video surveillance after every incident now.” Video surveillance can indeed help solve crimes, but one needs to be moderate in the discussion. “We cannot promise people absolute safety,” Kohlmeier says. Hakan Tas of The Left voices his opinion against more video surveillance, too. “Cameras are useless, especially at large events. One cannot discern the development of incidents,” he said.
Nevertheless, it was the duty of the police to prevent sexual assaults at large events in the future. Victims have to contact the police more promptly and file complaints, said Tas. Besides, the public needs more education. “This can be done using multilingual brochures, or by broadcasts from the stage.” And in general, more civil courage was needed.