Police violence for Stuttgart 21

Tord Björk | Uncategorized | Friday, October 1st, 2010

Friday, October 1. 2010, 17:27

Massive struggles in Stuttgart when thousands are willing to protect trees from being cut down in the middle of the city to give room for profitable development. Are we seeing a new protest wave against the current exploitation in city areas were people in common create new alliances and confront the present development model? From Khimki near Moscow to the heart of Stuttgart? Here is a report from Hanno Böck:

In the City Stuttgart in Germany, a massive police operation against environmental protesters took place. More than hundred people got injured at the eviction of a local park in order to cut down trees for the construction of a new train station. There are many reports about police violence. A pupils’ demonstration took place before the event, so lots of young children got injured Also, the protest is deeply rooted in the local population, so many average citizens took part.

The project in question, Stuttgart 21, is the plan to bring Stuttgart’s main train station underground. The current railhead station is planned to be replaced by a through station. The majority of the local population is opposed to that project for various reasons. The new station has only eight tracks while the current one has 16. Before the project has even started, the costs have more than doubled, currently five billion Euros are expected – but even the governor of Baden-Württemberg, Stefan Mappus, admitted that it probably will be more than seven billion. Critics expect it to be much more.

For that, local public transport services have been cut down in the area. Various other savings in social services were done in order to finance the megaproject, for example the subsidies for pupils’ bus tickets have been cut. Stuttgart 21 is not a public transport project, it’s a public transport cut down. It is mainly an urban construction project, because it will free a large area of rail tracks. The city’s mayor Wolfgang Schuster promised a referendum after his last election if the costs of the project raise – he lied, the referendum never took place. Two years ago, environmentalists tried to enforce a referendum by collecting signatures. But it was not approved due to legal reasons – the laws for direct democracy in Baden-Württemberg are upon the worst in whole Germany.

In the park beside the station 300 trees need to be cut for the project. For that reason, activists from the envrionmental organization Robin Wood and others have built tree platforms in some of them in the past weeks. Many average people had declared in advance that they will take part on acts of civil dissobedience to protect the park and called themselves „Parkschützer“ (park protectors).

The violent operation took place on the 30th september. Thousands of policemen evicted the park with water cannons, pepper spray and police batons. In the night, about 20 trees got cut. Afterwards, the local Interior Minister Heribert Rech defended the police act by saying that the protestors had thrown stones. Some hours later he had to admit that this was a false information. Still, and despite of hundrets who got injured, he and the local governor Stefan Mappus from the CDU (conservative party) claimed the police act was completely legitimate.

Video from the occupied trees during the police action: http://bambuser.com/channel/terminal.21/broadcast/1053579
For (german) information see:
http://www.kopfbahnhof-21.de/
http://www.parkschuetzer.de/
http://www.bei-abriss-aufstand.de/

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