On June 24 there was this year's „Cristopher Street Day (CSD)“ in Freiburg. At the edge of this there was a violent action from the police against some people who had participated in this event. A journalist who documented this faces now a criminal charge by the police.


This year, the CSD has ended in the city district “Stühlinger” in the “Stühlinger Kirchplatz”, a park inside the district. The final of the rally was held quite long. At this place, at the time of the end rally there was a conflict. In its course the police arrested some participants and one journalist who has filmed the actions of the police. At the Website of the progressive leftist journalistic collective “LZO Media”, a report about this incident was published.


At the beginning, a guy who was passing by begun to offend the participants of the CSD event. According to “LZO Media”, some of the participants reacted and confronted him. The police reacted fast, too, but they only took actions against the participants. Violently they arrested three people who reacted but the guy who offend the participants of the CSD, he was not even ID-checked. One of the arrested people is accused of “battery”. The second is accused of refusing to give the police his ID and of “resisting law enforcement officers”. The third has denounced the violent acting of the police and has loud protest against the arrests. Because this, the police has arrest him, too, and accused him to, “attempted rescue of a prisoner”.


LZO Media said, that the police acted very aggressive and violently against these people. They write: "Two people were injured and bleeding while their heads were pressed to the ground. Although it was quickly apparent that medical attention was needed, care for the injured did not occur until much later."


The free and independent journalist Armilla Brandt has seen and filmed this action of the police. But in the process, she herself was drawn into it. First, the police said to her, that she should stop filming them. Then, Armilla said that she is a journalist and shows them her journalist ID. The police send her, under surveillance a few meters away, from the police action. Short time later they also took action against her. They bring her to the other arrested people and try to confiscate her camera. But they don't has a order from a public prosecutor. Without an order from a judge or a public prosecutor, it is not allowed for the police to confiscated a thing like this camera. They only called a public prosecutor, when the journalist insert, that the police need an order from hhis and don't has the right to take her camera. She must to claim this order. The police also took action against another person, who handed a second battery charger to the trapped journalist for charge her camera. The police searched this person and write up the ID of this person.


The public prosecutor which was contacted from the police decided in the end, that the camera and the SD card with the video should be confiscated. So the journalist was taken to the police department where her SD card was searched immediately. The police officers which has watched the SD card together, had the idea, that they can accused her now for the “Violation of the confidentiality of the word”. The juridical basis for this is the “Recording of the non-public spoken word” through the Video. More precisely through the sound record of the video. In plain language, this means, that the conversations of the police officers in the video should be intelligible to hear.


Next to the criminal complaint for the“Violation of the confidentiality of the word”, the journalist was accused to the “Obstruction of justice” because she filed a protest against the confiscation of the materials, which she has recorded by the police officer. According to "LZO Media", the police officer told her, that he would file criminal charges against her, unless she withdrew the filed protest. So, the second complaint is nothing, than the absolute illegal try to intimidate her, by threatening her with repression if she not waived a fundamental right to filed protest against the actions of the police.

The Way like the police act against the independent journalist Armilla Brandt is a really intense attack on the freedom of press and free reporting. About this, Armilla Brandt says: “I simply went about my work and documented the police operation. If my journalistic activity alone constitutes a punishable offense, then we can finally bury the freedom of the press".


On a way like this, the police act many times against people, which document police violence. The question whether it is allowed or not allowed to film the police is a contentious question. In principle, filming the police during police operations is permitted according to a 2015 ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. The legal argumentation is that every person has the right to make video recordings to preserve evidence against the police. However, the publication of these is another controversial question. Putting videos online, in which individual cops are recognizable, is generally not allowed, unless it is a so called “contemporary historical events”. This could be the case, for example, if a police officer acts particularly harshly and disproportionately against a demonstration. But what exactly is a “contemporary historical event” and what is not is not clearly defined and can be interpreted in court in different ways and white. The important point, however, is that the documentation of a police operation is generally permitted and the police may not automatically assume that the material will also be published.


Befor the verdict on 2015, the police used sections 22§ and 33§ of the Art Copyright Act to take actions against people which filming and to sue them. In order to continue to prevent the filming of police operations despite the verdict, Section 201 of the Criminal Code, the "violation of the confidentiality of the word" is currently increasingly invoked. The decisive factor here is not the video but the audio recordings. The argumentation behind this is, that in the case of intelligible sound recordings, the "non public spoken word" is recorded and the involved police officers which are intelligible audible had their personal rights violated. There is also a legal dispute to what is a considered public and a non public spoken word. It is often argued where, at what volume and in what way the police speak to whom. There have been different rulings in different cases and the question of whether an intelligible sound recording of a police officer in a video is now part of the public or non public word can be interpreted differently from a legal point of view and is judged differently from court to court.


The § 201 of the criminal code is therefore the current legal tool of the police to prevent the documentation of their violent excesses. This affects people who film police operations with their simple smartphones, but also journalists. Especially independent journalists like Armilla, who also report critically on police violence, are a thorn in the eye of the police and are thus prevented from reporting and reported.

In this way, attempts are regularly made to restrict the freedom of the press. Right from the start, reporting is prevented directly at the scene of the event. The police want to prevent their crimes from coming to light. Just imagine if the murder of George Floyd had not been filmed and all had simply beliefed on the subsequent police press release.


Especially in Freiburg, where this incident took place, there has been actually a very intensive crackdown on progressive and critical journalists. Especially the raids against Radio Dreyeckland and the indictment against one of their journalists, because of a written article, which deals with the banning of Indymedia, show very clearly the will of the state to restrict the freedom of the press and to gag critical journalists.