"7 days under police": The man in the tank

For a documentary, the journalist Martin Rieck accompanied a hundred of the riot police in Hanover for a week.
 Riot police are deployed at demonstrations, football matches or state visits – and are sometimes criticized for unjustified use of force.
 Rieck's docu is calmly and yet very critically approaching a complex reality between violence and speechlessness.



    Martin Rieck leans against the tailgate of the emergency vehicle and looks for the eyes of the two police officers who have just led him away in the head control handle. "Wow, I thought that was really rough now, I'm standing there, and you're running full inside me." He looks around, shakes his head slightly. "I'm a bit shocked right now, frankly." The policeman with balaclava, hard hat and vest looks to his colleague, who crosses his arms with a baton in front of his chest. "We were not extremely brutal now, we gave 50 percent." The whole thing was just an exercise. Because Martin Rieck is not a real threat. Rieck is a journalist.


    For the documentary series 7 Tage … of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), Rieck accompanied a group of hundreds of riot police in Hanover for one week, unity of evidence and arrest. Riot police, these are the police who stand where it really gets down to business. They are used in large-scale situations, during demonstrations, at football matches or during state visits. Just like last year at the G-20 summit in Hamburg. What he experienced there, explains Rieck at the beginning of this impressive documentation, has made him think. The violence of some police in the G-20 protests had scared him, while the police should protect him. Rieck wonders: How are they actually ticking? And what are these people in the armored uniforms?

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That's why he lives for a week under police. Use them on missions, grilling with them, training. For example, the arrest of a violent predator out of a group of demonstrators. The peril player plays Rieck this time. On the training grounds, he joins the other plainclothes police, his fellow demonstrators. "What shall we do now? Do we exercise our right to demonstrate?", The journalist asks in the round. "We behave like the left ticks," replies a policewoman. Laughter. A joke, obviously. But these days he is only funny enough.


    Whether he feels that you are behind them? "Partly, partly", replies the policeman


    The police are in the criticism. In Dresden, an employee of the LKA Saxony mobbed on the edge of a Pegida demo against a camera crew of ZDF. Police officers kept the journalists from their work for several minutes. On Twitter spread the hashtag #Pegizei. During the riots in Chemnitz, the police have in recent days sometimes acted powerless and unresponsive to right-wing extremists. They underestimated the situation, they said. The old accusation that he is back in the room: The police like to lob to the left, to the right, she closes one eye.


    The NDR documentation by Martin Rieck and Henning Wirtz comes just at the right time. Approaching a complex reality calmly and yet very critically. A reality in which violence is commonplace, but about which, if at all, it is only spoken in clipped sentences. On the one hand there are men and women who take their job very seriously. Who feel a great responsibility towards the citizens, towards the rule of law and democracy. And they get their hands on this attitude quite often. Glass bottles, stones, fists. "The counter-demonstrators often have no sense of wrongdoing," says a police officer. "People are being verbally abused," says another. At the joint barbecue, squad leader Jan calls for more support, even from politicians: "The only thing we want is, if we act lawfully, that then we are behind us." Whether he feels that you are behind them? "Partly, partly", replies the policeman.


    Martin Rieck feels in the living environment of these people whose job it is to use in case of doubt, violence against others. The reporter always remains critical, he asks the right questions. After the G-20 protests, 138 cases were opened against police officers, but to date no charges have been made. Whether it is not difficult to testify against other police, asks Rieck at the barbecue evening the friendly colleagues Jan and Mika. "A healthy corps spirit is good," says Jan, "but he must not make you shit." At some point in this documentary, the camera is filming a photo in a changing mat, a troop of policemen is standing there like a wall, "task is not an option" stands beside it.


    At the end of this sober documentary one does not know why these men and women are doing this job. But one knows that where there is violence, and if it is legal, even speechlessness prevails. And that just this speechlessness is the real problem.


    7 days … under police, NDR, 23.50.

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                    Interview by Larissa Holzki