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Seehofer to file complaint after 'police are trash' article

June 22, 2020

After a German daily published a satirical article suggesting police should be thrown in a landfill, the interior minister said he will file a criminal complaint.

Horst Seehofer
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Schutt

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced Sunday that he will launch a criminal complaint into the daily newspaper Tageszeitung (commonly referred to as taz) after it published a column criticizing the police.

Seehofer cited the anti-police violence in Stuttgart on Saturday night as an example of why such rhetoric should be cracked down on.

"Tomorrow I will register a criminal complaint as interior minister against the columnist because of the unspeakable article in taz about the police," he told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

"A lack of inhibition in language inevitably leads to a lack of inhibition in deeds, and to excesses of violence, just as we saw in Stuttgart. We cannot accept this any longer," he added.

Seehofer is a member of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

The article in question was published on June 15 with the headline "All cops are berufsunfähig (incapable of working)" — a play on a slogan used by groups protesting police violence — by columnist Hengameh Yaghoobirafah.

The article discussed the argument for abolition of the police and suggested that, since they are "trash people," they instead could be "thrown in the landfill."

Taz editor-in-chief Barbara Junge issued a statement of regret for the column later in the week after it received a number of complaints. She described it as "satirical."

Read moreGermany to launch study probing racism among police

Why was the article published?

As protests swept the world following the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis, many activists are calling for police forces to be defunded. In their column, Yaghoobirafah echoed similar calls in Germany.

The incident in Stuttgart on Saturday night appears to have begun when the police instigated a drug check and were then attacked by up to 500 people. No motive has yet been officially announced.

Seehofer is expected to make a formal announcement on Monday.

Read moreGermany struggles to face its own police racism

Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH Elliot Douglas
Elliot Douglas Elliot Douglas is a video, audio and online journalist based in Berlin.