Evaluation of the Syndikat Day X Sponti
Syndikat is evicted. With this eviction we suffer a loss in the current phase. The plans of Syndikat to claim the street in front of the bar on the day of the eviction where thwarted by the cops, as the cops declared a no-go-area on short notice. With this the possibility for people to stop the eviction with their bodies was taken by the cops. That the cops came 24 hours earlier and started their siege on the neighborhood, different from the eviction of Friedel54 in 2017, proves their fear of a regained strength of ours.
In the Interkiezionale assembly on the 5th of August we made an attempt to react to this strategy of the cops. Ideas of blockades and chaos in the neighborhood were discussed. Realising these forms of protest on the day X was left to affinity groups, as no larger frame of organisation and orientation was provided (such as coordinating blockades centrally through a ‘finger structure’ as e.g. Ende Gelände does).
Would it have been possible to avert an eviction?
The endangered projects came together as Interkiezionale. Not solely because we are stronger against this shitty system, but also because we know that our fight isn’t only about the physical spaces of the endangered projects. As Interkiezionale, we understand ourselves as part of a movement fighting against displacement and simultaneously for spaces of an emancipatory movement in Berlin. The eviction of Syndikat can’t be regarded in isolation but is connected to a fight for other threatened projects and against the system as such.
We also want to point out, that the fight isn’t over after an eviction. Even years after their eviction collectives sometimes find new spaces. At the same time, evictions can also strengthen a movement due to politization, radicalisation and organisation (f.e. Liebig 14, Lausitzer 8). The assembly after the eviction of Syndikat showed the motivation of supporters not to give up (https://syndikatbleibt.noblogs.org/post/2020/08/17/der-kiez-nach-der-raumung-wutend-schockiert-aber-es-muss-weitergehen/).
Strategy against eviction?
In this text we want to evaluate the Syndikat Day–X spontaneous demonstration (‘Sponti’). However our strategy doesn’t rest alone on the preparation of a Sponti. In this vein there exists the call for decentral actions to increase visibility of the projects, to mobilise support and drive up the price of the (threatened) eviction(s). In the past years there were countless actions in solidarity with the projects and what they stand for. Also Interkiezionale regularly calls for open assemblies. Although it hasn’t been an established practice in a longer time. We want to make general assemblies to an established space of discussion, communication, networking and building trust which is open for all who share our values. Lastly, with demonstrations we can create a collective threat and bring it to the street.
It remains our goal to avert upcoming evictions. How long can the senate take it, if there is a lot of protest against every forced eviction. Can we uphold the degree of mobilisation of the demo from the 1st of August and around the eviction from the 6th to the 7th? Can we maybe to mobilise even more people to be on the streets at the next eviction? Can we manage to organise ourselves better, in order for us to be more effective? All these question are driving us, when we are evaluating action-forms such as the Day-X Sponti.
Why a Sponti?
Sponti is short for spontaneous demonstration. In the case of Syndikat, the eviction date was announced. Thus, spontaneity here only applied to the announcement of the starting point. As we need to expect cold evictions and unannounced evictions, we stick with the wording “Sponti”.
We had multiple goals with the Sponti. On one side, we wanted to offer a publicly announced action, so that on the day of the eviction at least one form of offensive protest would take place, that is accessible for mostly everyone. As the threatened projects are developing their own concepts for their Day Xs, as Interkiezionale we want to interven at the time where the projects themselves are hardly able to act – shortly after their own eviction. Furthermore we wanted to create a space for people to not fall into powerlessness after an eviction, but to come together and bring their feelings onto the streets. Our tactical approach failed. We will learn from this loss, continue planning and will step up at the next attempted eviction even more against the displacement. This calls for a general reflection: is a Sponti the appropriate means or do we need to find other concepts for the days of eviction and the time prior? If so, how do we need to adopt our planning and implementation?
A very short Sponti
The Interkiezionale has been mobilising for months publicly for a Sponti on day X at 9pm. The mobilisation included the information to make the starting point public on day X. One day before Day X, it was then spread through various channels (blog, Telegram, action ticker, twitter) that the starting point will be published at 5pm on Day X. This happened on Day X shortly after 5pm with the note to beon time.
At 9pm hundreds of people had gathered on Richardplatz. At around 9:10pm there was a (too quiet) signal for the start. The rather small first block was unfortunately already relatively close to the direction of Karl-Marx-Straße, so that it was practically not possible to gather behind the block before it clashed with the first chain of cops (roughly next to Dr. Pogo in the direction of Karl-Marx-Platz). After some punches and kicks of the cops, another signal sounded with the goal to walk into another direction. However the mass now moved into the direction of Kirchhofstraße – without a front block or row (maybe an uninvolved vuvuzela was responsible). Even though people at the front quickly organised into rows, the cops caught up to the front after only a couple of meters of walking. The cops came by foot from the front but also from the back (Richardplatz), pushing past the crowds. Being a small road, the cops could easily attack the front block without being harmed much. The mass retreated quickly, leaving the front of the demo alone. Within a couple of minutes the cops formed two kettles next to each other. One person suffered a laceration on the head. Although there were singular confrontations and some people could get out of the kettle, the situation became more and more static. After a while the cops permitted people to leave the kettle one by one, where they arrested at least two people.
Location: Due to the strong relation of Syndikat to the Kiez, it was decided to make the sponti happen in Neukölln, so the neighbours could participate. In expectation of a high presence and police blocades in Schillerkiez, we decided against a starting point in the immediate vicinity of Syndikat. Retrospectively the place was a bad compromise between distance and proximity to the evicted project. Due to the previous eviction and the cops fear of ensuing actions, their presence stayed quite high. This made it easy for them to pull many forces together in a timely fashion. Still the starting point was too far from Syndikat to create a more emotional athmosphere through a proximity to the project.
Both concepts have their advantages, but would have to be executed more thoroughly, which we didn’t. We will consider this in future discussion about starting points. Additionally the spontaneous decision to organize a neighbourhood demo in the afternoon made up a differentiation between “peaceful neighbourhood demo” and “angry sponti”. We regret this politically, and in relation to our concept, since the plan was to combine these two aspects.
We chose Richardplatz as a start as the square has many roads entering and small pathways. In hindsight, it was a tactical mistake. We underestimated how easily the cops can close off the square. Additionally, as there are no buildings to protect around Richardplatz, the cops could focus their entire energy on us.
We decided in advance to neither register the Sponti prior to its happnening nor on that night. The registration of a spontaeous demonstration should be generally considered. Beneath this decision lies the discussion how much one wants to bow to the cops decision. In case of the Syndikat Sponti, we decided against a registration as the organisation circle was not willing to cooperate with the cops after an eviction. With this decision we accepted the possibility of an early escalation. The Orga-circle had the demand to be strong enough to make the Sponti walk or/and accept an early escaltion either way.
The cops came prepared for a zero-tolerance-policy. The Richardplatz and all its streets was full with cops, standing outside their cars in sixpacks spread around. That way the cops were able to react fast. Paired with weaknesses on our side, the cops were able to stop us from walking.
Even though the preparation circle can react towards conditions at the starting point, it only makes sense to a certain degree to diverge from a strategy previously made publlic. A concept like the one planned here brings a lot of unknown variables. It can makes sense in some situation to register a Sponti, if the situation (amount & tactic of cops, amount & mood of the people) does not allow for walking or the people do not want a confrontation with the cops. Demonstrations should motivate and empower us, not burn us or make us feel like a defeat.
Interkiezionale mobilises for months for the Sponti with the note that the starting point will be published on Day X. This decision was taken months in advance, as Interkiezionale wants to have a public mobilisation to make actions accessible to people we can not reach otherwise. It makes such an action possible to more people in general, especially to people not from Berlin.
We afterwards recieved the feedback that some people did not come because of the public mobilisation. Others came and did not know, that it was a publicly announced sponti. This indicates that we need to better communicate the hard facts of our actions (what, when, were, how). However, we also see everyone having a responsibility in informing themselves about the actions they take part in and join discussion early (i.e. in assemblies).
With the late publication we were hoping for a strategic advantage over the cops. We were concerned to not reach everyone in case of a later publication but critically reflect, that four hours seems more than enough for the cops to prepare. However we think that it is possible to publish the starting point even later and still reach all people who want to particpate, if everyone is “ready to go” and the publication of the starting point orients itself by the possible timeframe for arrival.
Generally we found it hard to evaluate, how many people will follow our call for a Sponti. We were positively suprised by 500 people. We hope that the experience of the Sponti does not lead to frustration and fear as to not participate in the next actions. We want a solidary exchange, we want to learn from mistakes and make the next time work better together.
It was a mistake to overload our structure and the movement. After the demo on 1st August and the night of the Syndikat eviction, a third evening of confrontation with the cops was a lot to ask. Therefore, the level of preparation was low, the degree of organsiation overall to weak to make the demo walk despite cop presence. We ask ourselves, if it makes sense to have an action on the evening after a long night of evictions or if it makes sens to have a sponti rather some time later (Day X +1). At the same time, we want to counter the feeling of powerlessness after an eviction by offering a space on the street.
It’s a bit of a consolation that the cops were apparently themselves a bit weary and the mass of people could leave without getting controlled or arrested. We think a quota of 3-5 arrests is rather good despite having had at least 10 “Tabos”(lit. action observer , civil cops, dressed in a scene typical fashion walking in the demo) and a kettle and some solid offensive altercations with the cops. We have to apologize again for a prisoners-support that was understaffed and not prepared for a few people being held until midday of the following day. Even though it’s tedious, it feels different by how many people one is picked u in front of jail. We can do better.
If you’ve experienced repression or want to donate for coming repression costs, please talk to syndikat: https://syndikatbleibt.noblogs.org/post/2020/08/12/wir-lassen-niemanden-alleine-we-dont-leave-anyone-alone/
Collective behaviour on the demo:
In general the level of organisation and motivation around this Day x was quite positive if measured on the usual level of (dis-)organization and the amount of people coming to demonstrations unprepared. We had the impression that people were organized and prepared , which was a pleasure to see.
Still, without wanting to rid ouselves as an organizing-structure of our responsibility, but rather with the intention to find problematic aspects of the concept in the collective behavours, we want to say a few things to the dynamics between the participants:
Of course we understand the fear of violent assault by the cops and it’s bullshit to get beaten and peppered for nothing. We still think we should have more selfconfidence and (re-)appropriate more ways of action. The demonstration of first of August has sadly shown , that cops dont even need to exerce direct violence to break up a mass, a few running cops are enough to spread panic. At the same time the blocade of Hermannstraße in the night of the syndikat eviction showed, that determined collective action is possible and the cop tactics of regaining control by spreading panic can be stopped effectively. As a structure we want to work towards more solidarity and collectivity in masactions, so we can better protect eachother and be more flexible and capable of acting
The sponti after the eviction of Syndikat was one more attempt at achieving one more possible course of action, aside from spontis organized in a clandestine fashion and demonstrations that have been registered long beforehand. Despite some positive moments in the context of the sponti, we have to acknowledge not having succeeded that night in enabling the selfdetermined and offensive expression we were reaching for in the organizing circle. Nevertheless we do not want put the concept ad acta after this first generally negative experience, but learn from the mistakes and ideally enter into a discourse with all of you on how to develop the concept. For the coming Day-X-Spontis we want to go for a concept adapted to the respective situation. We have to keep in mind that for Meuterei just like Liebig34 a cold eviction is a real possibility. This would mean a situation quite different to Syndikat eviction – we would have little time for prepartion, while the cos might have little time aswell, since cold eviction sometimes happen with the lone support of private security forces.
Many different factors influece all considerations for a sponti, quite a few are unpredictable: How many people will come? How well organized are those that come? Are people ready for a confrontation or do they want to avoid it at all costs? Will it be more important to people to walk or to stick to a no-compromise-politic with the cops?
We will stick to the concept of spontaneous Day X demonstrations on day x (if necessary x+1) at 9pm. We will keep advertising the Sponti publicly and publish the starting point. We do want stay open to the possibility of registering the spontaneous demonstration in situ though.
We dont want people to be afraid of coming or feel like cannonfodder when we invite them again into a confrontation with the cops without any further reflection. It is our goal to take to the streets and be offensive in a multitude of ways on the very day the cops are punshing our friends out of their spaces. Meanwhile we don’t think one can measure the level of offensivity on whether or not a demonstration is registered. We want to create collectively positive moment and feel well in our offensivity, or atleast work towards this. We think the expectation of ourselves to take the first step on the street of asserting ourselves against the cops to be able to protest is quite high. We don’t want follow this approach any further without more discussions in an open general assembly.