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Kein Mensch ist Illegal – No One Is Illegal

 Last week a protest that took place in Berlin on the issue of refugee status following the destruction of a small refugee camp in Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg, Berlin, in addition to the status of the refugees. Yet it was not a police or government destruction, it was done by the refugees themselves. The group of refugees, originally spread all over Germany, moved to the park in Berlin to protest the government’s treatment of refugees around the country. Under the threat of deportation, the German government decided they would continue negotiations with the refugees, but only if they would move into housing provided by the city, and leave the camp. What transpired from there ended in the destruction of the camp, as the refugee contingent become split on their strategy one side decided to destroy the camp for everyone. These photos come from the protest the night the camp was taken down.

I had seen the small refugee camp a week prior at Oranienstraße, but this time was clearly different. For one, it had been completely torn down. And secondly, the area was surrounded by the Polizei, and their huge trucks.

These photos show the ensuing night.

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This truck is either strategically blocking the path, or had a terrible driver. I quickly learned it was the former.

 

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The Polizei blocking off the former refugee camp at Oranienstraße, which was torn down.

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Police barricade.

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Police congregating near Kotbusser Tor, where the protest would later be held.

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One of several police vans monitoring the area.

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Near protest time, the police began blocking off the street, doing their best to prevent overcrowding.

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Protest time.

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The waiting game. Obviously the buses weren’t operating in the area, so they may have been waiting awhile.

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Specialty rescue team.

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Overview of the crowd. It was now that the protest officially began, with various chants including: “Kein Mensch ist illegal.” “No human is illegal.”

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The police line from above. With more people joining the crowd.

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The beginnings of the protest. The flags pinpointed the hub of the protest, where the chants and yelling originated.

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Police reinforcements aplenty.

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Onlookers looked down from the comfort of their apartments. Many people who watched the protest happen (at least from street-level) were quite surprised and had a quizzical – “hmmmm, what’s this all about about?” – look on their face.

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The police line, standing ahead of the protest, seemingly choosing the direction the entire way. I would later learn this isn’t always the case.

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Standing guard on the street.

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Fellow photographer jumps in front of my photo. Damn.

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And here it is without the other guy.

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Woman stands on a pile of bikes to get a better view.

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The group, now gathered at Heinrichplatz.

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Police running by to get a better position after a group of protesters starts charging in a different direction. A rather large group.

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A group takes photos of the passing protest.
Sidenote: I found this hilarious.

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The next day, back at the former refugee camp at Oranienstraße. The sit-in progressing, with three people still up in the tree while a journalist interviews them. I talked to the police about going in to get better photos but that failed. And I could hear the journalist quite clearly, but obviously it was in German…

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Polizei barricade still stands.