Stuttgart police use overwhelming force against peaceful protestors concerned about new train station

Tante sez,
"A hardline police operation against demonstrators protesting against a new railway station project in Stuttgart has shocked Germany, after more than 100 people were injured by tear gas and water cannon. German commentators argue that the police went overboard and warn of more violence to come."

The new railway station is criticized due to its immense costs, unclear financial planning and the fact that hundreds of trees that have survived 2 World Wars and more will have to be killed. The protesters were "average" people, children, teachers, senior citizens that we protesting in a legal demonstration which didn't hinder the police forces from using "water cannon, tear gas, pepper spray and batons". More than 100 people were injured, one person lost an eye.

This extreme police violence against peaceful protesters comes with a specially bad aftertaste due to the upcoming "German Unity Day" (October 3rd) which celebrates the peaceful revolution in the German Democratic Republic 20 years ago. If the police back then had acted like the police did in Stuttgart, we'd probably still have 2 German states.

Germany Shocked by 'Disproportionate' Police Action in Stuttgart (Thanks, Tante!)

(Image: clipped thumbnail from this Reuters photo)


    1. … and the discussion standard has just fallen to a new low. Thank you.

      Before commenting, I suggest you read the full article and then tell us what alternatives the police had had. They were legally required to clear the area. So they told the protesters that they had to leave and what would happen if they refused. They were given a choice, they chose badly. Their fault.

      Some of you will certainly try to portray this as a willful act of police brutality against peaceful protesters, however the right to protest does not include the right resist lawful instructions of the police.

      1. It was a students demonstration! There’s no reason for massive police presence at a peaceful sit down demonstration.
        Why do people have to lose eyesight or get hurt otherwise doing something they’re allowed and even encouraged to do?

        The police operation was disproportionate to the amount of people and the kind of people that were there.

      2. Trouble is, between the broad(and often quite vague) scope of orders that count as “lawful” and the fact that virtually anything will be counted as presumptively lawful until the case winds its way through court months later(and the case will only exist at all if you chose to take the risk that the order isn’t lawful, and deal with the risks of attack by riot police), if “the right to protest does not include the right to resist lawful instructions of the police” we might as well just say: “You can sit at home and write mildly peeved letters to the editor, if it makes you feel like you have a voice.”

        See you in the Free Speech Zone!

        1. Nobody was beaten, at least not as far as I know. If you have credible sources that say otherwise than please share them.
          Some protesters might have bean injured while being forcefully removed from the premises, but the police didn’t take out their batons to beat the shit out of them. Almost all reported injuries were irritated eyes due to pepper spray.

          And I am not saying it is okay to be beaten for disobeying the police. It is okay, however, to remove people from areas they are no longer allowed to be in. If you have a problem with that stance then please tell me where you live, so that I can squat, erm … protest in you living room.

          1. “Nobody was beaten, at least not as far as I know. If you have credible sources that say otherwise than please share them.
            Some protesters might have bean injured while being forcefully removed from the premises, but the police didn’t take out their batons to beat the shit out of them.”

            The articles states, “Around 600 police used water cannon, tear gas, pepper spray and batons in an operation against over 1,000 demonstrators…”

          2. Thanks for the link, but considering the situation, I wouldn’t call that aggressive or brutal. The officer at the beginning of the video used his baton to fend of protesters who were shoving him.

            Then we see the police carefully removing a couple of teenagers from one of their vehicles, causing pain, but no lasting harm.

            Beating the shit out of someone looks different.

            @tante: As I’ve said, the right to protest has limits, such as climbing police cars and refusing to get down again.

          3. You’re seeing what you what to see.

            I see a small group of police surging forward into a large crowd of protesters. The protesters are moving back as the cop is attacking them (and the camera man who may be getting a little too close for his own good).

            The cops are pressing forward. The protesters are just standing there and slowing giving up ground. It gets crowded for cops when they rush into a crowd.

            I don’t speak German, but you can tell the protesters are trying to get the cop to stop attacking. He’s being violent, they are not. The protesters are putting their arms out to try to distance themselves from the cop and his weapon. That’s not shoving.

            Towards the second half, yes, the crowd is surrounding the cops, and starting to come towards the cops, but by this point the cops have already sprayed pepperspray on everyone and beaten people with batons and it appears they pushed their way into the crowd to get to where they were surrounded.

          4. They are shouting: “Schämt euch!” which means “Shame on you!”

            And they’re right,it is a shame!
            Shame on my country, I thought they wanted to try to be better…

          5. Let me first say, that I totally feel the police used unethically excessive force, but I have to agree with Ergi here. All the info I’ve found agrees with this:

            Protesters were getting unruly and refusing to leave the construction site. Some were merely protesting, others were physically trying to block the construction (well DEstruction really) physically. Most of the “police brutality” pictures (like the one up top of this article) are of people trying to rush the blockade to get in the way of the equipment. Not exactly a peaceful protest.

            The teargassing produced many injuries, but I have not been able to find reports of beatings per se. And nothing about someone losing an eye, if you have links to that, please post.

            All that said, a hand full of out of control jerks amidst a mass of thousands who are properly protesting, DOES NOT warrant tear gassing and water cannoning EVERYONE!

            A serious inquiry needs to be done into why such excessive measures were done to the entire crowd who ordered it, and who complied despite the obvious unethical nature of the action, but let’s make sure we keep our facts straight and remain objective.

          6. “properly protesting” ? Are you serious? Please tell us what a proper method for protest is.
            Do you show up with a nicely written sign, chant a few slogans, and then leave peacefully and go home for a nice cup of tea when it becomes apparent that the thing you’re protesting is going to happen anyway?

            I seriously can’t believe the amount of bootlicking I see in some of these types of threads.

          7. Hello Ergi,

            sure, check this out:

            I am living in Stuttgart and I am really shocked whats happening there.


          8. […]Nobody was beaten, at least not as far as I know. If you have credible sources that say otherwise than please share them.[…]

            Dear Ergi,

            please have a look to this:

            a) Time point 1:20

            It´s the same guy and at the first video, even if you say there could be a verbal provocation, the reaction is not adequate, because the officer is standing with his back to the area.


      3. “(…) however the right to protest does not include the right resist lawful instructions of the police.”

        Actually, in Germany it is. It’s called civil disobedience, and while strongly contested in concrete situations, at least in principle it’s neither illegal nor regulatory offence. Individual acts of civil disobedience might be, however, such as attacking police officers. In the case of the blockades the protestors were performing, the federal constitutional court is debating whether they can be classified as violence or not.

      4. “They were given a choice, they chose badly.”

        They sure did.

        We are talking about the cops, right?

      5. The use of water cannons against nonviolent protesters is excessive force, a lesser measure would have been enough to succeed in the police force’s objective to clear the area.

        In the past, such peaceful eco-protesters usually have been carried away without much ado (sometimes after having been cut from their chains to trees etc). Water cannons are weapons for riot control, these people were no rioters.

      6. Lawful does not necessarily equal ethical. The police had a choice not to act and not to beat people. This is Germany, so it’s relevant to say that the Nuremberg Laws are a great example of unethical laws. (No, Godwin’s Law does not apply, so don’t bother bringing it up…)

        Why is it that when police violate laws, it always seems to be in the course of violent action (e.g. shooting unarmed, even-handcuffed citizens). Where are the cops who defy unethical orders and refuse to enforce unethical laws? I suppose we probably just don’t hear about them.

      7. “Before commenting, I suggest you read the full article and then tell us what alternatives the police had had. They were legally required to clear the area. So they told the protesters that they had to leave and what would happen if they refused. They were given a choice, they chose badly. Their fault.”

        Wow – “they were just following orders” AND blame-the-victim in only the fourth comment.

        When the state holds the monopoly on violence, the only permissible dissent is ineffectual dissent – your concerns have been noted, disperse and allow us to continue with our work. Or we will blind you.

      8. And the standards for global freedom have just fallen to a new low, thank you.

        Before supporting fascism, classism & the military industrial complex…I suggest you read such works as “A People’s History of the United States” and nearly anything by Noam Chomsky or perhaps listen to the music of Woody particular “This Land is Your Land.”

        There is NO excuse for using violence in this sort of situation. The police should have done -nothing- and simply let the protestors peacefully protest and hold their signs and let their message be heard. If people were inconvenienced for a moment or an hour, so be it.

        Blocking construction/deconstruction is extremely different than, say, if the protestors were violently assaulting construction workers.

        Disgusting. Simply disgusting. I thought Germany had learned some lessons about the use of violence against minority groups during WWII & during the time of the Red Army Faction.

        Alas, it’s my concern that as resources on this planet dwindle..and as the fear level increases…we’ll all see violence of this sort becoming commonplace.

      9. Not true! First off all the German high court ruled that it is legal to do a sitting blockade and that you don’t have to leave.

        Besides that it is beyond me how you can justify pepper spraying children and old people who are protesting non-violently. I Germany we used to have the law requiring proportionality. So if I slap you in the face you can’t kill me for that and get away with it. So again having a population of kids, regular fellows and elderly people that is peacefully protesting being beaten up, pepper sprayed and hit with water canons (one of the protesters lost his eyes!) is hardly just.

        Maybe US has already eroded to a 300M flock of sheep, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to follow orders. We once had a time where every German just followed orders and it wasn’t that best time in our history.

    2. Talk about excessive use of force. Fascists.

      Sigh, everyone is just try to catch up with America again.

  1. Man, as a German expat, that makes me so angry. Thanks for picking it up, international news are still a bit distant on these events.

  2. The nonviolent protesters singing the national anthem before being attacked by police is reminiscent of the G20 protests in Toronto this summer. We seem to be entering a phase where police are increasingly willing to use violence against their fellow citizens and suppress any expression of dissent.

  3. I’m from germany (so excuse my grammar), I want to add some facts. There are some things serioulsy wrong about what happened in Stuttgart.

    There was a permitted demonstration of schoolkids against the “project stuttgart 21” when “coincidentally” the police started to fence off the area. So the kids were caught in the police-violence. The police told they had been attacked with big stones, but had to revoke that lie later to the press, the demonstators were peaceful, as all clips and images from the event clearly show. There were no “professionell demonstrators” there (like ultralefts) but nearly only normal citizens consisting also of elderly people, but that did not hinder the police to use batons, water cannons and irritant gas. The sheer brutality of the police actions against totally normal people is without precedence in the newer german history.

    A german author of crime novels with contacts in the police force claimed that in advance to this there were secret plans to send provocateurs into the protesters lines to discredit them and get an excuse for drastic actions.

    Other eye witnesses tell about failure to render assistance by the police when asked to help an elderly man who probably had a heart attack after being attacked with irritation gas. There was only ONE ambulance present for the entire park and no further paramedics were sent, even if hundreds were injured. The Stuttgart hospitals were not able to handle the load of injured people.

    I’m ashamed and totally stunned that something like this can happen in germany and some already talk about “DDR 2.0”.

    Please continue to report about this! A lot of the german media, controlled by the government, are trying to play this down!

  4. German guys in black uniforms clearing a street with excessive force. Can we have a worse PR mess?

    Seriously, let the protest happen. Even the staunchest of Hippies will leave to go sleep or take a dump. Once the initial blast has passed, resume construction. Anyone messes with the workers or the equipment, THEN you arrest them for obvious offenses.

  5. I am ashamed to live in this country. More ashamed should be the people who join the military or the police so that they can suit up, hide their faces and beat innocent people until they loose their eyes. Unbelievable.

  6. I can only imagine if I found myself in the protesters position… I would probably wind up dead or in prison for a very long time.

  7. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye!

    .. or at least that’s what I was always told by my mother.

  8. All apologists are referred to tante’s video, above.

    Cops beating people with batons is shown clearly. Pepper spray against the elderly (old man was just standing there) and a young kid in an arm-lock, to boot.

    Disobeying a “move along” order does not warrant physical force.

    Fuck the po-lice.

  9. Germany, USA, Ecuador, Britain, Italy, France, Sweden, doesn’t make any difference. Sometimes I’ve got the feeling that many policemen joined simply because they’re bullies who get high on beating people and when in uniform they can do it without fear of retribution…

  10. None of the other officers seemed to think a baton was necessary. One was smiling.

    And the pepper spray at the old man, who was standing at least 10 feet away?

  11. @Erdi and the others:
    Under current german law, ruled by the highest court, if people refuse to move away, police is authorized to remove these people – by carrying them away. Police is not authorized to use pepper spray or such. The people carried away also don’t get sued.
    That changes if they e.g. chain themself to something. But only sitting is no “resistence”.
    Thanks to “Castor” this is all worked out for years ;)

    So, spraying – either water or pepper – or beating people that only stand or sit there is *not* lawful.
    And several broken noses don’t come from carrying. And do you really think that a 72-year old lady broke her umbrella because she hammered into a “Darth Vader” Policeman? I think that is a movie-only feature.

  12. Another bit of background on the new station. The old station was also a survivor of two world wars. It is a critical piece of Stuttgart’s history, and her residents are quite fond of it. I can see very clearly how upset losing it might make them feel. If you want to see a bunch of boring modern buildings, you can always go to Frankfurt. Stuttgart prides herself on having more character than that.

  13. This is a complicated issue that’s been going on since it was first planned 15 years ago. Die Welt was quoted in the Spiegel article as saying that the construction was legal but also that the police were overreacting –

    “It is true that the protesters are trying to thwart a planning process that has been going on for 15 years, and thereby overturn the current position, which is legal and legitimate and was reached through democratic means. One can argue that the protesters are coming too late to the debate.’

    ‘But even then, the use of state pressure and state force must remain proportionate. Not all the protesters are simply out to cause trouble…”

    Peaceful protestors now have extra concerns aside from the specific issue against which they protest – police overstepping their bounds and the possibility of intentionally violent protestors triggering a response from the police that could endanger the peaceful protestors. If someone has a legitimate beef and needs to protest peacefully, the thought of becoming a collateral victim of violence in the name maintaining order might be enough to keep people at home – censorship as a side-effect.

    What’s the answer, staying home or wearing goggles?

    1. “Scheiss Bullen!” (well translates more to fucking police – literally it’s shitty bulls)

    2. it translates to “fick die polizei”. but “bullenschweine” is much more common.

      but i disagree with the idea of fucking the police. germany is supposed to be a democracy. they should be our police, why should we fuck ourselves? i prefer documentation and public discussion. what can possibly beat emphasizing on the stupidity of a government beating the craps out of their own sovereign?

      but then again, sometimes there are some hawt officers, and another way to understand and translate your question comes to my mind. but i don’t like their style of clothing and accessories.


  14. For the US people used to their US police rights:

    In Germany the police does absolutely not have the right to beat you just like that. Also “resisting arrest” is definitively not a crime – where is the unlawful thing in that? And German policemen are hardly allowed to shoot you in the leg should you run away – they are advised to run after you for instance. (It’s also not a crime to break out of prison, it is seen as a natural urge to do. If they catch you you will just go back for the rest of your sentence.)

    Then there is the official constitutional court decision about peaceful sit-ins. If people are sitting on the street/ in front of trees/ on tracks for blocking a train, policemen would commit a crime beating them. If you are peaceful they have to be as well of course. Their only allowed course of action is ‘carrying you away’. That’s why the police actions over the last days are so extremely shocking, they are unlawful on the police’s side.

    But: there is a problem with personal responsibility on the side of the police. You hardly ever find out who shot water in your face losing your eye, or who choked you till you fainted. Riot police in Germany is not wearing badges with names or numbers. You cannot identify the perpetrator = you lose your eye and nobody pays the bills/ grants you damage. And even IF a court would grant you some damage it would be next to nothing. Losing an eye or leg maybe grants you 20.000 or something? It’s usually not worth it.

  15. @Ergi gives, as an example of unacceptable protest, climbing atop a police car and refusing to climb down.

    I would like to point out that such an action helped kick off the Free Speech Movement here in Berkeley in 1964. The police did *not* find it necessary to resort to violence in that incident.

  16. Scratchee, I wonder which “right-friendly” sites should have reacted in the way you say.
    In legal terms the violence the police used here is completely out of proportion under German law, and that makes it illegal.
    It hasn’t happened for the first time, and normally the police say that violent leftists started it, and they had no choice. The typical citizen of Stuttgart approves of beating up leftists. It’s one of the most conservative regions in Germany, and they have elected CDU governments for 57 years in BaWü.
    A large part of these protesters are conservatives though. They are protesting a construction that will be extremely expensive, but won’t give them an advantage, and in the castle-park centuries-old trees have to die for it. A very conservative issue. The government of BaWü didn’t grasp that the police were beating up their voters and their children. It’s the centre-right press and sites that are loudest now, and—there are elections in March.

  17. Quite, Scratchee. It’s the usual picture: leftists protest and are beaten. “Left-friendly” sites protest the violence of the police, and “right-friendly” sites blame the left. Not here, and that is new.

    1. Except that those people are no leftist by any means. They are from the middle of society. This makes this so much different, as now the well protected middle-class awakes and realizes what it means to be beaten up by police. It also means that the ruling party is beating up it’s own voters.

  18. This is indeed a black day for the german constitutional state. What happened there was very, very bad and totally uncalled for.

    Even worse: the german “green” political party (Die Grünen) had planned a session to examine the excessive violence used by the police against the protesters, yet the currently governing partys saw it not prudent to do so and intervened, stating everything was fine and further investigation were neither necessary nor called for.

    The worst: the few policemen that are not only doing their job, but do so really conscientous insofar as they want to protect their fellow citizens instead of subduing them, are vastly outnumbered by bullying cops – if even mostly in the public image. Once the executive power of the state loses its remaining obligation to keep lawful, the people will follow, resulting in anarchy and civil war.

    Since this is Germany, where everything goes by the rules, it will take somewhat longer than elsewhere – but when chaos strikes, it does so really extensive. It would be most desirable to undo the damage instead of ignoring it.

    Greetings from germany,

    1. It is not linked in the article, but in many of the german articles of today (all papers and online news magazines are full of articles, german forums are creating thousands of posts today on the topic).. and it is certain that one person lost eyesight on one eye, another “may” lose eyesight but can only be further examined in a few days.

      Also, a few persons sustained so much damage to their eyes that surgery was necessary, for one person even leading to implantation of new lenses because the old ones we damaged during an attack, and also a broken bone in the eyesocket to another.

      Sorry I don’t put up proof, but it is 1am over here and I am tired. If the need arises I’ll add references tomorrow.

  19. In this article it is mentioned that four(!) persons got seriously injured by water cannons at their eyes: (German only)

    and yes, _at least_ one of them will lose sight on one of his eyes. Two others got injured retinas, one of them will have his lenses replaced by artificial lenses! And the fourth one got a bone fracture at his eye.

    And yes, police _aimed_ at their heads with the water cannons!

  20. Still, I don’t think the claim “a person lost an eye” together with the link to the Spiegel gallery is correct.

    In this article it says that one young! person might sustain lasting damages to his left eye. This could! go as far as losing sight on this eye:,1518,720707,00.html

    Meaning, the man in the picture is not the man the link refers to. No-one has “lost an eye”. Instead, it isn’t clear yet whether one person *might* lose sight on one eye.

    The story is awful enough as it is. Don’t try to make it sound even more gruesome by bending the truth a little bit.

  21. “If the police back then had acted like the police did in Stuttgart, we’d probably still have 2 German states.”

    I don’t know what age “tante” is or where “tante” was “back then”, but it should be noted that “back then” the east german police most definitely did act like that, and worse. Much much worse. They deliberately deployed violence to “hunt people down” and to beat the living daylights out of them (and have them arrested afterwards) on plenty of occasions. Dear “tante”, don’t rewrite history.

  22. Dear international community,

    some additional information:

    1. The kind of protests which happened in Stuttgart were explicitly backed up by German High Court 25 years ago(“Brokdorf-Beschluss”)
    2. Stuttgart is the home of the most peaceful and pro-government ppl in whole Germany; if they rise, something’s wrong
    3. The kind of protesters who regularly seek trouble on those events, did _not_ take part up to this point; they may join though

    If you need more information, the central meme is “S21” (check yt, twitter etc.)

  23. I live in Berlin where riots after left-wing protests are common. Even here, the police hardly ever uses their water-cannons. The difference to Stuttgart is that they have a conservative CDU/FDP coalition government while we have a social democratic/socialist coalition.

  24. Having lived in Leipzig, Hamburg and Berlin and seen protests and riots firsthand in all three, i have to agree with #62. The water cannons are usually used to extinguish burning barricades and cars, and generally drench people and make them uncomfortable and slow. And that only during actual riots, with the Black Block throwing stones and molotovs at people and setting cars on fire etc. Those are the ones who then tend to get aimed at with the water cannons at higher force, and rightfully so.

    But old people and school kids in a sit-down protest? Ridiculous and indefensible.

    How anyone can not see this as a complete overreaction is beyond me. Nobody was in any immediate danger, the tree stuff wasn’t especially time critical, so they could have just waited it out or carried everyone off one by one, like they often do elsewhere.

  25. oh come on now. everyone is coming down on the police for this.

    They were “just following orders”…

  26. Dear Anon#63,
    how about you stop rewriting history? Tante probably refered to the peaceful demonstrating that took place in eastern germany – mainly the ones in fall, 1989. And there the police – who was allowed to shot – did not attack the demonstrator while they screamed “Wir sind das Volk”. These were the protests that took place “back then” and these protests were crucial for the unification (well, or anschluss as some like to call it) of the two german states. And did you perhaps meant the Stasi and not just the police forces?

  27. This reminds me a lot of a Dutch student protest in the ’90s. Lots and lots and lots of students showed up in The Hague expecting a nice, friendly, peaceful day out protesting against education budget cuts. The police were right in their face from the start, taking away signs and banners from anyone who arrived at the station, and provoking them during the protest itself. Most protesters just ignored them, until the police charged with horses and water cannons.

    Big uproar about this disproportional police violence of course, but in the end, I don’t think anyone lost his job over it.

    Personally I think that in cases like this, all police officers involved need to be fired, and the people in charge need to be charged and appear in court. This kind of abuse of their violence monopoly needs to be punished severely. Make an example of them, to keep the rest in line.

  28. Anon:
    Don’t be shamed to live in that country. It is not the fault of the everyday people. It has to do with politics. And poloticians are a different race :)
    We had the same here in a bit harder version.
    First of all I have to say, that I did not heard from this incident in the media. I heard about “celebs” doing nothing interesting, and I heard about minor things. I only got an email today with a youtube link. A guy from my country made a video report on this, on my language. I got curious, and I wrote “Stuttgart” into google. I didn’t find any article on my language on this. This article was on the 7th page.
    In our case the protestings were quite another order, but the acting of the police was the same – brutal. We had even gas grenades, and horse riding policemans too. Here were some loosen fingers, and the white stick sellers made some good deals too. However the protesting ended up in a real fight between the police and the protestors, the TVs and newspapers were hiding the truth. They only showed one side of the events. The side, which pointed the protestors as agressors, and the police for innocent victims. Later another protestings linked to the first one with the big fight were handled unlawful. We have a phrase here: “you have the right, but you do not have the opportunity to live with it”
    I could continue telling details, but I think the parallelism is evident.
    The cause I am writing is that I feel that the controlling power got globalized, it’s no matter in which country do you live, the same things happen. I feel distressing this tendency. But for that very reason you shouldn’t shame yourself to live in your homeland. Here the things are already distort. If someone doesn’t feel shame and says, government shall feel shame, then they are titled as nazi and everything bad that ever existed in peoples mind.
    I wish that this tendency changes, and sometime, somewhere, it stops. So I wish justice and I feel solidarity with you.

Comments are closed.