Monday, May 21, 2012

May Day 2012

On May 1st, we went to the May Day festival in Kreuzberg, which is this mix of riots and street festival. Here is some info taken from an article on May Day on the Exberliner Website (full article here):

[O]n May 1, 1987, a fight started between the police and the autonomists. Ulrike S. remembers watching the events from her flat on Lausitzer Platz, where she used to live with her small child: “The police attacked all of a sudden. Someone helped the women and children escape to the basement of a nearby café, where we waited for things to calm down. It wasn’t until late at night that someone came with a VW minibus and got us out of there. We couldn’t set foot in our apartment for three days because it was saturated with tear gas.” In the course of this Kiezaufstand (“neighborhood uprising”), a Bölle supermarket was burned to the ground. The ruins stood as a reminder of the event until a few years ago, when the enormous mosque opposite Görlitzer Bahnhof took their place.

The 1987 riots were so impressive that the following year, the Kreuzberg lefties decided to hold their own, “revolutionary” May Day demonstration. After the trade union demonstration in 1988, up to 10,000 people gathered at “O-Platz” (Oranienplatz) under the rallying cry “No liberation without revolution”. They marched down “O-Straße” with their arms linked together, their red flags and homemade banners flying, and their faces covered with black ski masks – the uniform of the old-school autonomists. This day, like so many May Days to come, ended in rioting.

...In 2001, with the summit siege in Genoa on the horizon, the conservative Berlin government banned the demonstration – which drove even more people out onto the streets for a massive illegal protest. More than 5000 riot police, brought in from across Germany, couldn’t keep the situation under control. Some 270 officers were injured; 289 people were arrested.

...When the prohibition failed, the city came up with a new strategy: it would fill the streets with party-goers, music, food and beer. This was “MyFest” – presented as an initiative by residents, but financed by the police. In 2005 and 2006, the demonstration was pushed out of the heart of Kreuzberg by MyFest, but soon a counter strategy emerged: the activists held a concert at the edges of the event, featuring well-known international musicians like Kenny Arkana, from France, and Banda Bassotti, from Italy. At 6pm, the demonstration started there and thousands of people joined in.

We ate vegan baked goods for breakfast that morning at Cupcake in Friedrichshain, walked around in the sun, wandered through the festival and hoards of people sipping margaritas and nibbling on street food and listened to various bands as we walked by until the crowds got a bit too much for us. Afterwards we headed to Tempelhof park in Neukölln to chill out and try to find this open air dance party we heard about. While we were sitting on the grass some guy offered to stretch me out on this swing thing, so I had to do it, right? Funny pictures follow. I got my first sunburn of the season and it was a beautiful day, quite perfect for my first May Day.

Rudy, Thea, Rikke and Aleks. Excited for May Day!
So many people
On the way to the park in the U-bahn
Myriam, smile so I can take a picture of these people doing crazy yoga!
Some guy stretching me in this swing thing, lolz.
Doesn't look awkward at all.
Walking to the Open Air party

 And that was May Day in Berlin!

1 comment:

  1. awsome pictures and finally have my answer on the 6pm demonstration :-)