LaGeSo: August, 7th – afternoon

On Friday afternoon, I came back to the LaGeSo with a friend of mine. I found him standing still and very moved by what he was seeing. I felt a bit better to have an emotional support.
I had come with a bag full of toiletries. All of it was quickly distributed.
Now people were queuing to access the showers. The queue was as long as the one for the administrative formalities. It was almost 5pm, the buildings would close soon.
What I hadn’t realized was that not only the administrative section, but also all the facilities and the whole complex would remain closed until Monday. There was still hundreds of people here. Where would they sleep tonight if not here? We were told there wasn’t any place left in any of the Berlin’s accommodation facilities.

The Berlin police was present on Friday, August 7th, 2015© All Rights Reserved

Police vans started to arrive. At first, I thought to myself that it made sense, given the lack of order of the place. Then, the anti-riot forces arrived. When the sanitary facilities closed, the crowd began to protest and asked the security to let them access it. More than a hundred people was assembled and still queuing. The atmosphere was becoming tense, up until the point when a refugee, apparently being too agitated, was hit on the head by a policeman with a baton and overpowered by several anti-riot police. Everyone started to physically and verbally protest, be they refugees or volunteers. I couldn’t understand a word so my friend translated what was being said in Arabic. They couldn’t understand why they were being treated so violently. I looked around: anti-riot policemen and women with stoic faces, policemen with bulletproof jackets and batons out. My throat was itching. I naively thought for a split second I was falling sick, until I realized by looking around that many men were crying. During the commotion, we had been lightly tear-gassed.

A young man giving an account of the outburst of violence between the policemen and the refugees on August, 7th © All Rights Reserved.

The chaos ended thanks to volunteers who managed to calm down the crowd. A German woman was facing to anti-riot policemen and was visibly upset by what we were witnessing. She was shouting and asking them why they were acting the way they did. In front of her, a wall of indifference.
On my left, another woman, a volunteer, was still shouting appeasing words on top of her lungs towards the now dispersed crowd. Like all that had worked to support the refugees here that day, she was exhausted and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
The shower facilities opened again, as the injured man was being treated by the paramedics.
Not knowing what more we could do, we left the premises.
I found out later that all the refugees had been brought by the police to an emergency facility near Karlshorst, on the Eastern outskirts of the city. I couldn’t help but thinking that if the state was able to provide emergency accommodation for the week-end, why not keeping up the good work during the week?

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