Hamburg, Germany. Back on the Park Bench

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Originally published by Park Bank Solidarity. Translated by Enough 14.

Back on the park bench

Now the time has come – the main hearing in the so-called “Park Bench Trial” is over, the verdict of the Grand Criminal Chamber 15 at the Hamburg Regional Court has been pronounced after more than 50 days of trial hearings. Presumably this is not the last word; it may still take some time until the verdict becomes final.

But we – the now sentenced anarchists – want to have our say, which is something we have not done (publicly) together until now.

There will certainly be more on the course of the investigations and proceedings elsewhere and at a later date. First of all we want to express our gratitude and commitment here and say a few words about the verdict and the temporary end of this odyssey. Although there have been public statements from prison on various occasions, there were none on the charges and the spectacle of the trial until the end.

This also has to do with the widespread refusal to participate in the role of the accused, which was forced upon us. But it is precisely this attitude that seemed and seems to us the best way to maintain dignity and integrity in such a situation.
As anarchists, we reject courts on principle. They are institutions to enforce authority.

The silence in this trial has not always been easy for us in view of the arrogant, cynical impertinence with which we have been confronted throughout the entire process. However, it is important for us to point out that we are not at all dealing here with out-of-control breaches of taboos. Detention as a measure of blackmail to cooperate, waving through illegal investigative measures… quite normal everyday life in the judicial system. We see no prospect of scandalizing such conditions – we do not believe in the possibility of a “fair” justice system. By this we do not mean that it is absurd to name these symptoms of an institution that always works in the interest of the ruling order. Nor do we propose to be cynical about this institution.
But we find it much more important to find an active, self-confident and self-determined approach to repression. We have nothing to expect from them, but from ourselves and the people with whom we fight, we can expect all the more!

We are happy and proud to say that we have succeeded in doing so well. Sure, we will realize in the aftermath, in the discussions that have so far been limited by the prison, that we would not do everything the same way again – but in the end we left the courtroom with our heads held high and our hearts pure, with the feeling that we had preserved our integrity as anarchists.

Apart from the quite complex legal regulations and the rituals that form such a criminal trial, everything functions according to relatively simple rules – concessions or even leniency are only given in exchange for recognition and appreciation of authority, assistance with one’s own punishment and repentance.

What we experienced in the main trial showed how much this whole show of power, with all the dark wood, the elevated seating positions, the absurd rituals and choreographies and silly costumes, is dependent on the fear and awe of the defendants. With our extensive refusal to respect and fear, the court has not found a sovereign, face-saving way of dealing with us until the end. Of course we are also afraid of the arbitrariness and violence of the ruling class, but we are not naive and know that in the long run it does not pay off to give in to their blackmail. If we assume that the level of judgement is not the most important benchmark for us, but to remain loyal to other things like ourselves, not to let ourselves be broken, and to refuse to be categorized on this basis, this also means to find a way of dealing with the consequences resulting from this. And we have to find this individually and collectively, among ourselves and together with our surroundings and with all comrades-in-arms.
What risks we are willing to take is always a negotiation process, and we want to emphasize that there is no ideal, no patent remedy. The legal sphere simply does not allow for a conflict-free, uncompromising approach. It is also a question of collective management how to counter the harassment and revenge of offended authority.

As mentioned at the start, our approach was not free of tactical considerations. We are very fortunate to have lawyers on our side whose self-understanding includes clearly naming criticism, concerns, and risks and respecting and supporting clear attitudes in solidarity. Together we have decided on a more legal and technical way of defending ourselves during the trial, especially since we were confronted with accusations of inhuman practices and thus the risk of very long prison sentences. With its persistence and meticulousness, the defense not only cost the court its nerves, but also forced it to make substantial concessions. Some of their lies were no longer tenable and their construct was effectively watered down.

We didn’t want the picture that the authorities drew of us to be discussed beyond the technical level during the trial. Our ideas and we ourselves are far too beautiful to be discussed in such an ugly place! We also dislike relativizations and trivializations, the degree to denial is more than narrow and we don’t owe these people any explanation at all; they stand for everything we reject. Especially since the tendentious crap the cops wrote about us was so shallow and diaphanous that explanations of substance were unnecessary anyway.
And for the fact that we are anarchists, with all that which scares the authorities, we are not ashamed – on the contrary!

In the meantime, it was also strange for us to attend the trial days largely passively and let the lawyers do all the work. But this also had the pleasant psychological effect that a certain distance was always maintained between us and the trial events and, in addition, the impression often arose that it was not us but the authorities who were being put on trial. The fact that the court was so overwhelmed by this situation also provided moments of comedy and satisfaction, as well as the unprofessional irritability of senior public prosecutor Schakau. Last but not least, we always and literally had our people behind us – especially for us in prison, the trial days were, despite the absurd spectacle, moments of solidarity, warmth and variety, which we always looked forward to, as exhausting as they were.

We have learned a lot in these almost 11/2 years. Much that will help us and other comrades-in-arms in our social revolutionary struggles. Which will make us stronger and a bit more conscious in the conflict with organized oppression and exploitation, with the state. We are looking forward to share our experiences and the experiences of all the comrades-in-arms who have continued and developed struggles outside, to grow together in these struggles.
We have seen how much strength there is in all the solidary, loving relationships developed and cultivated over the years. We are also proud of our families, who listen to their hearts, who are always behind us and believe in us and not in the lies of the cops.
We have seen and felt with great satisfaction how the revolutionary solidarity in the form of many direct actions against the police, prison profiteers, real estate sharks and other expressions of exploitation, against the state and capitalism, their repressive attack, our arrest, has turned into a farce. This aspect is important because it hits several central points in this whole story. We have been on trial as representatives of social struggles, which are expressed through direct actions, attacks and sabotage against those responsible and mechanisms of social misery. This accusation must be struck back precisely where these conflicts exist, where we live. Their repression will neither pacify nor stifle these conflicts, it will only increase the social tension.

In these almost 1 1/2 years, so much has happened on a global scale, but also here that it would go beyond the framework of this text to cover everything. Many social revolts and uprisings have challenged the ruling conditions worldwide. For example, the months-long uprising in Chile, in Hong Kong, the prison outbreaks during the beginning of the Corona pandemic in many countries of the world and especially the prison revolts in Italy. But also the reactions, the enemies of freedom, have unfortunately taken space. Far-right, racist, anti-Semitic and patriarchal murders and attacks in Halle and Hanau and other places. Ammunition and weapons storage depots of military and police personnel were discovered almost monthly. Far-right networks and fascistic ideas in the security agencies as well as the threat by them are well known. The racist institutions have openly shown their grimaces. Of course this state of affairs is threatening and worrying, though not surprising. We have been encouraged by the self-organizations of victims and relatives of far-right terror, who dignifiedly oppose the unbearable conditions, the fascists and the brown swamp of the authorities. Let us stand at their side! The anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles worldwide have also sent important signals and made progress to put an end to the conditions, despite the omnipresent Corona pandemic.

We are full of joy and anticipation to return to the streets and fight again without walls, bars and windows between us, fighting side by side.

For social revolution!

For anarchy!

Freedom for all!

The three anarchists,
who were convicted in the park bench trial