Police Raid Home of Twitter User Who Insulted German Official
German social media users are using the situation as an example of the abuse that can stem from poor enforcement of a controversial 2018 anti-harassment law.
Andy Grote, Alleged “Pimmel”
German officials in the state of Hamburg faced widespread backlash on Wednesday after police raided the home of a local Twitter user for comments he made about a politician.
The user — who hasn’t been publically identified but goes by ZooStPauli — caught attention three months ago after responding to a post by Interior and Sports Minister Andy Grote with “du bist so 1 pimmel,” which translates to “You are such a dick.”
It’s unclear if Grote went to either party officials or local police to complain about the post himself, or if the police decided to take action on their own. Either way, ZooStPauli’s post led to an online harassment investigation.
In Germany, online harassment is a violation of Chapter 14 of the country’s criminal code. However, the online harassment provisions have proven to be extremely controversial after they were added in 2018. Now, the use of six officers for a raid over name-calling on social media has fueled arguments that such provisions are ripe for abuse.
“Lots of people saw what this person wrote as completely harmless — compared to what you find on the Internet and all the death threats, particularly against minorities and women. This is laughable,” Professor Jeanette Hofmann, of the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, told The Washington Post.
For many, Hofmann’s sentiment hit the root of the issue with laws that dictate online harassment: unequal enforcement and potentially limited freedom of speech.
ZooStPauli has even spoken about the raid, writing on Wednesday, “My house was searched at 6:00 this morning. Six officers in the apartment. They know there are two young children living in this household. Good morning Germany.”
The search resulted in at least one device being taken from the home for further evidence.
The entire situation has prompted #Pimmelgate to trend across Germany, casting an international spotlight on the country’s social media laws. It has also prompted hundreds of users to return to Grote’s original post, writing “du bist so 1 pimmel” under it in solidarity with ZooStPauli.
Additionally, there are now memes going around the platform about the situation, including one that recreates the famous “Simpsons” intro scene in which Bart Simpson is required to write on the chalkboard. In the meme version, he writes, “Andry Grote ist kein Pimmel,” which translates to “Andy Grote is a not dick.”
With #Pimmelgate spreading online, some experts have pointed out that convicting people for their online comments is exceedingly difficult as there is a fine line between online harassment and digital rights.
Read what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Zeit) (NDR)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.