Court bans police video surveillance of ′neo-Nazi neighborhood′ | News | DW | 08.05.2020
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Court bans police video surveillance of 'neo-Nazi neighborhood'

A police plan for video surveillance of a Dortmund street home to suspected neo-Nazis has been overruled by an administrative court. Judges have said recording activity on the road would exceed police powers.

Nazi Kiez sprayed on a building in Dorstfeld

'Nazi hood' was spray painted on a building in Dortmund's Dorstfeld district

An administrative court in Gelsenkirchen in an initial ruling on Friday upheld a fast-track complaint filed by four residents of a street reputed to belong to Dortmund's neo-Nazi scene.

A police plan for video surveillance of the street was not covered by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia's (NRW) police law, said judges, nor was the street location a known high-crime area. Video surveillance amounted to a serious infringement of a person's constitutional rights, the judges added.

Read more: German police want to put cameras in Dortmund's 'Nazi hood'

"The property damage offenses in the form of 'graffiti' spraying with partly National Socialist [Nazi] content (five cases since 2018), cited by police headquarters, are not considered significant" within the context of applicable law, the court opined.

Dortmund police can appeal the decision to NRW's top administrative court in Münster.

Far-right insignia sprayed over

Last September, police accompanied anti-racism graffiti artists as they sprayed over Nazi insignia opposite the complainants' shared rental apartments where they had hung flags dating back to German imperialism.

NRW's interior minister, Herbert Reul, attended the repaint in Dortmund's Dorstfeld district, reportedly telling artists, "The neo-Nazis must not be given one millimeter of space."

Police watch graffiti artists spray a wall

Police were on hand as graffiti artists sprayed over far-right images in Dorstfeld

In January, Dortmund police chief Gregor Lange announced plans for video surveillance of Dorstfeld's Emscher Street in addition to camera observation of an inner-city street begun in 2016.

Right-wing extremists should not be allowed to establish a "parallel world" in any corner of Dortmund, Lange said, adding that Dorstfeld should not remain a "zone of fear" for other people in the area.

In recent decades, Germany has witnessed a string of far-right hate crimes, including fatal shooting sprees in Halle in October and in Hanau in February.

Perpetrators in both attacks posted racist screeds online.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer subsequently declared far-right extremism the "biggest security threat facing Germany," promising a beefed-up security response.

ipj/sms (dpa, AFP)

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