“Kostenersatz” for occupying Nele? No one will pay!

veröffentlicht am 18. September 2019

In November 2018, activists occupied an empty building, a former revolutionary Marxist printery in Vienna. They called their new house “Nele”. A lot of people are sick of the dominant power relations and the resulting overall rent situation. Those in power are aware of that: “Where would this end, if everyone occupied empty houses?”

The occupation has been evicted after around three weeks. There was a massive presence of police, including a lifting ramp, an emergency air cushion from the fire department and helicopters.
The squatters climbed the very visible pitched roof, while others remained on the flat roof underneath. The former have been escorted downstairs on a lifting ramp, the latter who couldn’t be seen from outside of the building, were thrown headfirst through a window and dragged downstairs with arms twisted behind their backs. All of the evicted people refused the ID control by the police and have been arrested. Two have been identified nonetheless, one other was put into custody for several months.

Because of evictions as expensive as this one, one question is asked by the public, the media and politicians again and again: >>Who pays for this?<<

When the “Sicherheitspaket” (safety package) became law on may 25, 2018, the §92a was updated. Because of the new interpretation of §92a Abs. 1a SPG, it’s now possible that people who cause a police operation can be obliged to pay for its costs in two other situations than before: If the police operation has been caused by a deliberately wrong emergency call or if a person involved put themselves into danger recklessly.

One of the two identified persons, who stayed on the pitched roof got a letter demanding payment of 3808 €. The claim is that they put themselves in danger by climbing the roof; hence are responsible to pay for the overblown police operation. An operation that this person certainly did not wish for. The only moment where they were in real danger was most likely when someone from the police kicked in their direction while on the roof, which is documented by camera footage.

Especially that the authority to decide, whether a person is in danger or not lies within the police makes this new way of interpreting the law vulnerable for misuse against all kinds of social or environmental activism. Be it environmental activists climbing on trees, lock-on actions (actions where people lock themselves e.g. onto a tree, fence or entrance) against animal abuse or simply people blocking a street in protest, everything could be affected by this new interpretation of the law. More often than not during political protests, the greatest danger to a protester is not the act of protesting, regardless what forms it may take, but the police itself.

New years eve posed another opportunity for acts like the above. During a police operation, several people were charged for “screaming ACAB” in the direction of the police. The persons affected by this aren’t charged separately for their individual actions (meaning the police does not claim to have caught and know about the individuals that are charged screaming this), but for being “part of a group” where someone has screamed something like this. The mere presence during this event shall be punished, according to them.

The authorities now seem to test out new ways to see how far they can go (in police practice and on the legal side of things) to intimidate protesters. They try to create precedents to further restrain acts of resistance and fights for change. Let’s not just accept this! Let’s fight this and defend ourselves by any means possible!
Objections are nice and all, but the courtrooms of this world are not the place for discussions about justice. What is right or wrong according to the law is defined by the existing power relations, not justice. Let’s not be criminalized and intimidated by the state for our political engagement.

No one will pay! Never will we start to voluntarily pay the people who hit and kick and imprison us! On the contrary, in case of an actual conviction and the following “Ersatzfreiheitsstrafe” (substitute imprisonment instead of paying the sentence) the state will have to pay double and more (board and lodging inclusive).

Support of all kinds is welcome! Punishments and acts of intimidation like these are designed to turn collective anger into individual feelings of powerlessness. Let’s turn the tables and once agai – turn our individual suffering into collective anger. Screw the system and it’s loyal protectors!



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