preventing violence

Behaviour in case of violence and aggression


Statistically speaking, many of you will never get into a violent situation. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases it is useful to be mentally prepared for such situations. We do not have a patent remedy for coping with any kind of aggression, but we can give you advice and recommendations for de-escalating and weaponless conflict prevention and management, which have been proven by police experience.

The contact persons for behavior-oriented violence prevention of the Berlin Police Department teach in seminars and counseling events how to deal with aggression and violence in public spaces and how to deal with people who are prepared to use violence for public authority employees.

Behaviour in the case of violence and aggression in public places

Danger recognized, danger averted

Just as you can recognize and avoid dangers in road traffic in good time through anticipatory behavior, it is possible to avoid situations that could lead to aggression or violence at an early stage.

Trust your feelings

Emotions are often a „danger radar“. People usually notice instinctively that a threatening situation is imminent. Let your feelings guide you in such a moment. Fear, for example, is an important feeling. Do not try to suppress it. However, it is not necessary to be afraid all the time, since violence is very rare in individuals. Exaggerated fear of crime prevents the recognition of actual dangers.

Avoid the danger early on

The earlier you recognize a potential danger, the greater your chance of averting it. Consciously avoid people who seem dangerous to you. Keep your distance. On the street, change sides as a matter of course. In dangerous situations, get as close as possible to other people. In the dark, choose well-lit and busy paths.

Do something unexpected

Offenders usually expect a certain behavior from their victim. Try to be as self-confident as possible and show no fear. Do not get involved in the offender’s plan. If people are molesting you in order to provoke you, do not scold back, but simply go on without stopping. Amaze offenders with surprising actions. Fake phone calls with your cell phone, for example. Simulate illnesses, nausea or start singing loudly in order to disconcert the perpetrators.

Set limits

Point out clearly and unambiguously that you do not want certain things, such as getting too close or touching. Do not provoke the perpetrator. Address the person in question as „you“ so that outsiders can recognize that you are being harassed or threatened by a stranger.

Attract attention

Crimes are usually committed where the perpetrators feel undiscovered and where they do not have to fear prosecution or the risk of discovery. Get the perpetrators out of anonymity and make their misconduct public. Involve other people (e.g. other passengers on the subway, pedestrians). Scream and draw attention to your situation. Other people must be mobilized. Speak directly to people from whom you want help. Say specifically from whom you expect what help, e.g: „You in the red jacket, call the police!“. Many are willing to help.

Escape the situation and the perpetrator

Use every opportunity to escape as quickly as possible. Move away from the perpetrator’s field of vision if possible to avoid further attacks. Escape to where other people are.

Help without endangering yourself or others. Everyone can help

When you help in dangerous situations, it is important not to put yourself in danger. The following points have proven to be effective and safe:

  • Alert the police immediately. The emergency call is free of charge.
  • Speak directly to other people: „We help together now“.
  • If necessary, leave the place with the victim.
  • Offer the victim „safe places“ (the place next to you, your car, your business premises, etc.)
  • Scream loudly, this makes offenders feel insecure and attracts attention.
  • From a safe distance, shout loudly in the direction of the perpetrator: „I have called the police“.
  • On public transport: Pull the emergency brake or inform the driver.
  • Remember the appearance of the offender.
  • Make yourself available as a witness.
  • Do not stop fleeing offenders.
  • Do not physically or verbally attack the perpetrator.
  • Keep your distance.

Street violence in Stuttgart: A change in political culture is needed

Violence against policemen is almost part of good manners in Western society. In Germany, the example of Joschka Fischer and the rise of the Greens and parts of the SPD from extreme left-wing contexts had a symbolic effect on the establishment of the party.

When a city center is ravaged by an out-of-control mob, as has just happened in Stuttgart, this is a political issue per se. In the green-ruled model state of Baden-Württemberg and in the capital Stuttgart, which is also green-ruled, the government of the city and state does not want to have known anything about the potential for violence that was discharged last weekend. So much stupidity or cowardice on the part of political leaders is also a political issue.

The Stuttgart police chief briefly brought up the completely misleading formulation of a „party scene“; the man obviously knows neither what a „party“ is nor what a „scene“ is. The managers of the Stuttgart clubs were right to protest immediately.

The perpetrators seem to have been neither politically nor religiously in any way high spirits, but they apparently shouted intensely and repeatedly: „Fuck the police, fuck the system! And under this self-drumming the attacks against the police, all uniformed officers, police cars and even police stations escalated.

„System overthrow“ and „The cops are pigs“ are slogans that have a fifty-year-old beard, even if the hooligans from Stuttgart don’t know anything about the story. One origin of the partial acceptance of violence against policemen can be found in June 1970: That was when the article „Natürlich kann schießen werden“ („Of course you can shoot“) appeared, which had been leaked to the „Spiegel“ from the „underground“ by the RAF, which was just being founded. This text opened the door to violence against policemen as representatives of the „capitalist“ system for the first time after the Second World War.

The perpetrators of Stuttgart, at any rate, in a society that publicly delegitimizes the police and portrays them, for example, as racist suspects (like SPD leader Saskia Esken), literally feel called upon to pound on police officers. How could it be otherwise, when for decades brutal, radical leftist demonstrations against police officers have been part of good social manners in most Western countries?

As different as the demonstration fashions have been over the decades, the protest scenes are united by a strange „rage“ against the police. In Frankfurt in the seventies there were phases of a downright civil war. The mixture at that time was made up of militant squatters, left-wing terrorism references, Maoist K-groups, militant street fighting „for the Third World“, against capitalism, imperialism, against the state and the system.

From this phase comes the 1973 film scene in which a militant Joschka Fischer, later Green foreign minister, together with other violent criminals, steps on a policeman lying on the ground, which in January 2001 triggered a discussion about the Green’s violent past. And it was from this phase that the Molotov cocktail attack by the radical left-wing militant scene in Frankfurt in 1976, in which a policeman narrowly escaped death, originated.

This street violence against the police continued in the following decades until the violence excesses in Frankfurt in 2015 at the opening of the European Central Bank and in Hamburg in 2017 on the fringes of the G-20 summit.

Thus, in the last fifty years, practically every German, including every German with a migration background, has, with strong media support and encouragement, at least become a police sceptic: „All cops are bastards“ – ACAB, in plain English: All cops are pigs.34

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