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Berlin: 1,600 Police Officers Enforce Firecracker Ban Zones

Berlin’s new Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey visited a fire department and a police station on New Year’s Eve. She was informed about today’s large operation. More than 50 firecracker ban zones needed to be guarded.

Berlin, January 1st, 2022. Update: January 2nd, 06:16 a.m. CET (The Berlin Spectator) — In Berlin, New Year’s Eve was not a nice day. In the early afternoon, it started raining like hell. But the downpour did not stop Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey from talking to representatives of the city’s fire department in the Tiergarten borough, where she appeared with Interior Senator Iris Spranger. She thanked the fire fighters for their efforts and was briefed about their work.

Operational and Technical Matters

After the visit, Giffey said Berlin’s firecracker ban zones had decreased the number of police and fire department operations by one third, compared to the “war-like” situation which had developed at some spots in the city in the past years. She said some of those ban zones should apply after the pandemic as well. The Governing Mayor stated police officers and firefighters would be protected this way. In pre-Corona times, policemen and policewomen had been attacked with lit pyrotechnical products by intoxicated mobs in several cases.

Franziska Giffey visited the police station at Alexanderplatz. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Franziska Giffey and Iris Spranger also visited the police station at Alexanderplatz. At this square, Police Chief Barbara Slowik and other high-ranking officers explained operational and technical matters to them. Hours before the Governing Mayor got there, Berlin’s main public transport provider BVG had already closed two entrances to the large subway station there, because the square is one of Berlin’s fireworks ban zones. People were supposed to be kept away. Security guards asked passengers to enter the underground station through the nearby main train station.

Illegal Firecracker Sales

At 6:00 p.m. the police partially closed Alexanderplatz in order to make sure nobody would gather or light firecrackers there. Walking through the area was allowed though. The police put up signs that said “Fireworks banned!” in German and English. “For a peaceful new year!”, the sign read. They probably meant New Year’s Eve. The ban applied from 6:00 p.m. until New Year’s Day at 6:00 a.m.. Alexanderplatz was one of 53 ban zones. As Thilo Cablitz, the Berlin Police Department’s chief spokesman, told The Berlin Spectator, 1,600 officers were on duty last night, on top of the usual 900 patrol cops.

In the afternoon, this entrance to the ‘U-Bahn’ trains was closed. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

In spite of Germany’s general firecracker and fireworks sales ban which was put in place because of Corona, a lot of bangers were heard in Berlin. In the northern part of the city’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, the noise was constant from 7:00 p.m. until after midnight. Many Berliners purchased firecrackers in neighboring Poland. There were illegal sales in Berlin too. At one party in Berlin’s eastern part, twelve people were slightly injured when pyrotechnical products exploded.

Hyperactive Governing Mayor

Franziska Giffey was hyperactive on Friday. She also appeared in a New Year’s Eve show which was broadcast live from Brandenburg Gate on ZDF television. Usually, thousands of Berliners would watch the show on site. Because of Corona, the entire audience followed it on their TV sets, pads, smartphones, laptop and desktop computers this time.

Parties and dance events at clubs and pubs were forbidden. So was gathering in groups of more than ten persons. Still, several hundred persons intended to party together close to Brandenburg Gate in the late evening. Police officers dispersed them. All in all the night was “relatively quiet”, according to the Berlin Police Department. On Saturday at around noon, a statement by Interior Senator Iris Spranger was released. She said there had been ten attacks against fire fighters and police officers. The culprits had thrown pyrotechnical products at them. Luckily, nobody had been injured.

Positive Effect

“It is a sad reality that there are attacks against cops and rescuers on New Year’s Eve on a regular basis”, the Senator stated. “They do not only threaten rescuers, but also people who urgently need help.” Each attack was one too many. Iris Spranger also said the firecracker ban at dozens of locations in Berlin had had a positive effect, in spite of some offenses.

Later on Saturday, an incident in Berlin’s Friedrichshagen borough was reported, in which eleven individuals were injured in a fireworks explosion. Four of them were treated at an accident hospital. Children were among the victims of the explosion which took place at a new year’s event organized by a company. On New Year’s Day, the Berlin Police Department said a total of 280 persons had been arrested on December 31st and January 1st, for offenses against the gun control law and for lighting pyrotechnical products illegally.

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