“My colleague was on the train with a hundred other passengers. The police came by for a check and they didn’t ask anyone for their documents except him. It’s clear that in Germany, people who look like me are not treated equally by civil servants,” recounts Sylvie Nantcha, a city councilor from the CDU in Freiburg, the first African-German woman to reach a position from which her complaint is able to become an institutional one.
Equally clear-cut is the new “Anti-Discrimination Law” approved on Thursday by the Parliament of the Land of Berlin, which felt the obligation to put a stop to the disturbing and overt practices of the police forces.
Berlin is the first state in the Federal Republic to explicitly forbid all public authorities, starting with the police, to “discriminate on the basis of skin color, sex, physical or mental disability, worldview, age, gender identity, lack of knowledge of the German language, illness, income, employment or education,” in a step forward in the fight against racism.
Very little has been left out of the law proposed by the Greens and passed by the Die Linke-Greens-SPD majority, which also provides for adequate compensation for damages suffered during controls, stops or arrests that violate the law.
It manages to patch up the legal hole left in the Federal Equality Act of 2006, which was limited to the areas of employment and relations between private citizens.
However, the CDU and the Liberals oppose this legal precedent in Berlin, which they claim will “undermine the work of the police.” The measure may spread to other states of the German Republic as well.
The ban on discriminatory treatment covers citizens of any country, including the millions of migrants, and also applies to the thousands of police from other states who are always posted to Berlin at major events or demonstrations: from now on, they will have to show the identification numbers on their uniforms at all times.
It is a clear positive signal coming after the demonstration of 3,000 people in front of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, the explosion of anti-racism graffiti on the walls of the city and the “grassroots” change of the name of a subway station, which has been temporarily renamed “George Floyd Strasse.”