Memory reports and resistance

The memory reports of the project “Demonstrate!“ were supplied partly personally, via email, and from reports by concerned citizens.
All names have deliberately been left out to avoid that the people who I all personally know do not get in trouble. 
Because of police attacks, injuries and legal proceedings, parents, relatives and friends spontaneously formed a group for those who were arrested during the demonstration. This group offers legal support and works on the documentation of all incidents during this evening, informing the public via leaflets and press conferences.


Account No. to support this group:

PSK Austria – swift code: 60000, Account #: 77 783 501 U.N.

Infos about "Riot Police stormed EKH": www.no-racism.net


Thursday-Demo on 22. 02. 01, Vienna

Memory Report # 1

About 8.50 p.m.: I am walking close to the demonstration, which is heading for Schwarzenbergplatz. I see a number of policemen wearing helmets, clubs and shields. They started out from the Ring at the side of the Imperial Hotel, beating and forcefully breaking up the demonstration, which is driven towards Stadtpark. 

I am walking on the sidewalk, straight into this direction, and spot some of the attacked demonstrators about 15 meters away from the police chain. One woman yells at an officer, if they’d know who they were representing. From the row of officers (to my perception all WEGA officers) I can hear phrases such as: „Let’s get those,“ “We’ll catch them.“ 
Some officers run towards this woman. I don’t know if they really reached her, because, when I want to move through the police chain with a press card held up in the air, the first officer lets me pass, but his „colleague“ suddenly hits my face with his shield. When I show him the press card, he only shouts „Piss off,“ followed by further insults. Alongside the aggressive officers, I move towards the sidewalk and turn into the direction of Schwarzenbergplatz.

I am sick of getting permanently attacked during the demonstrations by members of the WEGA, being prevented from my work. I’ve noted a more and more neglecting, aggressive and often violent attitude of these officers vis-à-vis independent media representatives.

The last time I was prevented from work by a WEGA officer was December 12. The reason for this seemed to be an internal observation, which one of the heads of the officers had ordered. In this matter, I will contact the UVS. My letter to the Austrian committee for press cards and the Austrian press board was received without response.

While the Kronen Zeitung has been invited to seemingly martial WEGA attacks, which violate one‘s basic rights, the ORF (Austrian broadcasting station) only presents the view of the executive forces, filming attacks without sending them. Thus, the ORF covers the executive forces‘ violation of human rights. Meanwhile, uncomfortable reporters are exposed to the arbitrariness of the executive forces.

In parliament sessions, the Minister of Interior Affairs speaks of “so-called“ journalists, the state police differentiates between „real“ and „underground, “ a differentiation which the “Kurier“ accepts without comments. Mr. Schnabl gives orders to action at dawn, to favor the WEGA and the central forces for election purposes, rendering exclusive pictures to the “Krone.“ And besides, editorial offices get attacked, and because it is the newspaper TATblatt (Action paper), other media don’t care. “Der Standard“ also denounced them with the comment “radical team.“ 


Memory Report # 2:

Schwarzenbergplatz: The police goes crazy against the demonstrators, overcoming those who couldn’t get away in time. There are people lying on the streets (also old people), who are treated with kicks. The results are some cuts. It was also me who couldn’t get away in time (My gums are slightly bleeding).

After this unnecessary police attack, the demonstration continued. The police followed. 

After burning some trashcans, we continued to Mariahilferstraße where water-cannons were waiting. Demonstrators used a construction barrier to block the street. 

Mariahilferstraße: Some broken windows. Continuing towards Apollo cinema Kettenbrückengasse – and a "hare hunt" without any possibility to get towards Margaretenstraße.

Margaretenstraße/Ziegelofengasse (Filmcasino): There I saw the first arrests. People lying on the street are carried behind cars to be hit with clubs and shoes. A photographer was present. He was chased away by the police. I witnessed everything with horror (standing on the other side of the street). I wanted to call a lawyer with my mobile phone. 

Some policemen came near me and wanted to pull me away, tearing the mobile out of my hands. I wanted to pick it up, which I succeeded after several attempts. In the meantime, I got hit a couple of times. The result of my efforts were: bruised shoulder, left middle finger slightly swollen, also the part around my left eyebrow and the back of my head behind the right ear. One policeman kicked my testicles with his knee, which hurt very much for a short time. 


Memory Report # 3:

I was standing with a Viennese scientist at Schwarzenbergplatz, hundred meters behind the demarcation line, when, all of a sudden, participants of the demonstration came running towards us. I didn’t see what was happening in the front, and also didn’t hear that the demonstration was about to be finished. I also didn’t see that until that time there had been terrible incidents, but I was too far away. Later, one of the participants told me that people were throwing stones, which hadn’t happened on any of the Thursday demonstrations.

Thus, the demonstrators came running toward us. My companion wouldn’t have been able to run. So I positioned myself in front of her, my back towards the approaching people. The demonstrators passed without touching us, there was enough space. When the policemen came, they simply knocked us down. My companion hit the street with the back of her head.

I bowed down to see if she could get up again, when the policemen also came back. I said that they had knocked her down on purpose. The policemen replied that we shouldn’t mingle with “this scum“ of people. The area would be part of the action. Since I had to take care of my companion, all I could say was something against the term „scum.“ After all, there weren’t 1000 people throwing with stones (what is still correct). Since the people were already gone, there was no reason to hunt for “scum.”

"The scum" had moved through the center, but not murdering or setting fire, which the TV spectators might think.
At Kärntnerstraße, there was the first barrier. The demonstration had to turn into a side street (a usual ritual), which repeated after 200 meters, before the demonstration could reach Schwarzenbergplatz where the mentioned attack started.

It seems to be more likely that the reason was the hunt for “scum“ and not a de-escalation. The usually accurate TATblatt reports one of the most brutal anti-demonstration attacks in years. Groups of demonstrators were actually waylaid – to be knocked down and arrested.
Some policemen had been waiting for a legally justified attack since they hadn’t had a reason to do so for a year.

What was striking was that there were many young people among the demonstrators, most of them younger than 20 years. In relation to the police attack one has to think about the fact that the police was brutal mainly against young people, and against peaceful demonstrators.

I saw an activist with a bleeding head, who had been demonstrating the whole year without even thinking of violence.
According to eyewitness reports, the police also punched and kicked people who had already been lying on the ground. 

The Austrian public will be mostly concerned about damaged cars or shop windows, not about the young or no longer young, or even about the champagne-drinking society, which is regarded as normal in contrast to one million poor people.

The results of my companion’s injuries: concussion, fractured skull and brain? – this will be seen in the X-rays, and calling in sick.


Memory Report # 4:

Thursday, February 22
Another Thursday demonstration, except that there are more people than usual.
After a short tour through the city, the entries to the state opera were blocked, of course. We reached the Ring and then Schwarzenbergplatz. A little earlier, a window of the Trigon Bank had been broken.
Shortly after a group of demonstrators had run towards the police line, succeeding in tearing the fence away from the police, more policemen appeared behind the line. At this time, I was walking in front of the demonstrators and the police with a press photographer and took some photos with my digital camera. Some demonstrators were throwing objects towards the shields and helmets the policemen were wearing. 
Suddenly, I was just taking a photo, some policemen (about 5) attacked a demonstrator. I moved closer because I wanted to take some pictures. Shortly thereafter, some policemen in black uniforms started to attack the demonstrators, charging them with batons without taking care of older, younger, or female participants. Although I didn’t feel very well at this moment, it got better when the police had passed, I think because of my camera. But the same moment I was hit at the back of my head and fell to the ground. Crouching down, I was lying at the Ringstrasse and hoped to be spared, but it turned out to be different. My legs and my back got kicked (a bigger bruise will be seen longer on my upper thigh). These measures were accompanied by messages like: „Get up you fucking bastard.“ Soon  I got up again and limped away from the battlefield. Then, the next attack by officers in black uniforms started, pushing me and others off the street. To a woman on the ground, they only yelled: „Get up and don’t act like a fool!“
Totally confused, I went up to a higher decorated officer, whom I’d known from numerous demonstrations. Saying that this couldn’t be the de-escalation which was favored by the Minister, he replied something like: “We didn’t start..... and the window of the bank.....“ 
Well, this might have been the ultimate retaliation.
If it were war, the world’s population would be screaming because it would be civil bombing.
The second incident happened a little later at Kärntnerstrasse (outside the Ring), between a blockade (by the police) and a large part of the demonstrators, there was a hole of maybe 20 m2, in-between some photographers and a few anarchists, who had been trying to provoke the police without success. But the situation changed after a while, I cannot say how, but all of a sudden, policemen in the same uniforms were running towards the demonstrators. Due to the previous attacks I couldn’t run that fast and soon met the mass of policemen. My reaction was to raise both hands (I had a camera in one of them). Freely according to “Get your hands up or I‘ll shoot“ I wanted to show my pacifism. Some policemen acknowledged this and spared me. But suddenly someone hit my right index finger, which I had on the trigger (The bruise could still be seen days and weeks afterwards). The pain made me shortly fall down, this time I wasn’t hit, but overwhelmed with courtesies. In the end, I could save myself between cars, resting, when I realized that my camera was damaged. It does not only no longer work, there is also visible damage on the outside. (about ATS 5000.-). I’ve been at the Thursday demonstrations for more than a year. We almost always managed to prevent violence on both sides. 

At last another observation of an action by some demonstrators at Getreidemarkt, or the tram line # 2, Mariahilferstrasse:
- The trashcan, which was perfectly on fire on Austrian television, was moved by skinheads from Gumpendorferstrasse to Getreidemarkt. These men didn’t look like they would belong to the left anarchists‘ scene.
- Some chaotic people and “rightists“ moved construction fences and materials to the crossing Mariahilferstr, tram line # 2. They were observed by at least 3 police cars, those which blocked the adjacent streets. 
- It took about 15 minutes until support arrived, but suddenly, water-cannons and forces in black uniforms appeared. They drove the demonstrators towards Mariahilferstrasse, which was visible from the blood stains on the street sometime thereafter. 

 From all the experiences during this evening, some questions can be raised:

- Does the head of WEGA has his team under control?
- Did the police deliberately accept the building of barricades to gather evidence against the demonstrators?
- I didn’t see any policemen there, was it like this, and if yes, why?
- Is it possible to complain somewhere?


Memory report # 5:

The demonstration started off smoothly at Ballhausplatz, a few hundred demonstrators had come.
Up to Kärntner Straße everything seemed to be quiet, except that exceptionally many disguised people could be seen among the usual (Thursday) demonstrators. Slowly, this situation caused uneasiness among many.
I also tried to avoid these groups.
On the part of the police, nothing was done to sort these people out.
At Annagasse we suddenly met the first police barrier. We had to pass through the very narrow street, which caused a very tense atmosphere, because exactly at this point, many demonstrators had been encircled, sitting on the ground, and attacked with water- cannons.
The possibility of mass panic is also very frightening when you cannot really get away.
The demonstration elongated to Schwarzenbergplatz, that’s why I reached this square very late, but not too late to see: Towards the opera there was a massive police barrier at Cafe Schwarzenberg. In the very front, there was one persistent person who wanted to reach the opera. Most demonstrators were standing quietly.
Suddenly, a massive police attack: about 60 to 80 officers with clubs, shields, and helmets, who attacked everyone without warning. Those few who wanted to refuse either fell to the ground (and on other people) or fled towards the back and made many uninvolved passers-by fall as well. The storming policemen knocked everything moving down with clubs and shields. Those who had already been lying on the ground were hit as well. You could hear screaming, the shields‘ noise, and calling for help.
Some who had stayed away, tried to stop the police’s aggressive action by screaming or running towards the policemen. At this point, several people were injured, one person got hit from the back, one woman wanted to help another woman, but was beaten up and knocked down.
50 to 60 officers came running from the Stadtpark and hit a camera team of the ARD. This was filmed.
There was chaos everywhere, you cannot really describe the noise, like in a bad police movie. 
Then, they tried to split up the demonstration, hunting one part of the participants towards Stadtpark. Most people, however, succeeded in continuing together towards the Musikverein. Emotionally, everyone was very tight and appalled by the brutal police action.
Right by the Secession, I entered the demonstration again. I had advanced because another clash between the police and some of the demonstrators was already being expected: bottles tinkling, shields clattering. Also here, the police had not tried to separate the aggressive demonstrators.
Since me and most others weren’t hurt, we continued slowly. Suddenly there was screaming, and some people approached us from Kärntnerstraße in panic. Everyone tried not to be trampled underfoot, which was impossible because of a lack of space. I pressed myself against a wall. You could hear shields knocking on hard matter. (people?), the trampling of boots, screaming. The same scenario happed three times, then me and others fled towards Mariahilferstraße. We stopped briefly, saw how some skinheads and disguised people threw wood parts from a fence into the road without being stopped by the police. Then they ran into a side street to the right. We moved further up.
At the corner of Mariahilfer str. and the construction site of the Museumsquartier we remained at a distance and saw how skinheads and disguised people moved recycling bins on the road of tram # 2 to set them on fire. Again, no police forces visible. At the construction site, some people dressed in green and white, others disguised, and noisy skinheads collected stones and destroyed barriers for about 15 to 20 minutes, again unnoticed by the police.
Other demonstrators told us that the police was busy with directing a successfully separated, peaceful part further below via Gumpendorfer Straße towards Mariahilferstraße, directly to the raging part. Around us, there were several civilian officers (they’d already been known from several Thursday demonstrations), reporting the action via mobile phones. I asked one of them for help, to call his colleague because something had to be done. He smiled and stayed on the phone.
Since you could already hear the demonstrators from a distance, I ran towards Ballhausplatz to call for help via phone by myself. The civil officer smiled and said: “Something will happen immediately!“ At the same time, two water-cannons were placed towards the demonstration at Mariahilferstraße.
I kept running in panic because of those who were approaching with no idea what was about to happen.
The executive forces directly aimed at the masses several times that the civil population, also those who uninvolved, were seriously in danger. Panic reactions were triggered, crime was not prevented but facilitated. Those who weren’t involved were beaten and injured by the police. 

One civil officer, who heard me saying at Schwarzenbergplatz that a camera team shouldn’t film us but the beating policemen, threatened to smack me and came running towards me. I called a friend for help, then the trouble maker spat at me without showing his ID, made an obvious gesture and mingled with the armed policemen.

I had seen several injured friendly demonstrators. This has always happened when the head of operations is Mr. Zander.


Memory report # 6:

The beginning of the demonstration was at Ballhausplatz, as usual, a camera team was present like on the previous Thursdays, a relaxed atmosphere. Number of demonstrators: 400 to 600 (subjective guess). 
At Kärtnerstrasse (by Annagasse) the first police barrier – not unexpected, because it was the yearly opera ball, and thus the blocking off was to be expected on a large scale. Detour of the demonstration through Annagasse. Through the narrow street, the demonstration was stretched out. At 'Flanagan's‘ the situation started to become unclear because the line was a bit loose (because of Annagasse), and a lot of police vehicles were visible. From the very back end (Annagasse) I arrived late at Schwarzenbergplatz. A police barrier towards the opera, also not unexpected. Demonstrators spread out at the crossing of the Ringstrasse (towards Schwarzenbergplatz). Suddenly, an assault by armed officers including baton charges, foot kicks, collapsing people, screaming out of pain, commotion and disturbance.

Comment: Until that moment I couldn‘t see the throwing of cobblestones. Neither did I hear the disintegration of the demonstration nor any request to clear the crossing or the threatening of a forceful clearing of the streets. This may be due to the fact that I arrived very late at the crossing (Annagasse), but in fact, none of the following attacks was announced by a request/notice I would have heard. Actually I heard that the demonstration had broken up. There were rumors, much later, after I had left. At this point I still thought that the demonstration would resume its business as usual.

After the first police attack, the demonstrators showed understandably much nervousness. A friend hurried up to me and told me that she was called an asshole and threatened because of having directed an ARD cameraman towards a beating up scene by the police. She pointed at the man who spat towards us with ugly gestures and left to the grid barriers. According to another person it was really very easy to walk behind the police lines! 

A friend told me that a speeding police car almost hit him. He wanted to photograph the scene and I accompanied him, because he was afraid. One officer wanted to prevent him from taking pictures on the grounds that he were a dangerous person, preventing everyone from stepping across the grid barrier.

A friend told me very excited that she was beaten by the police when she wanted to help another woman who had been lying on the ground and was still beaten by a policeman with a stick.

I wanted to soothe a friend, who was angrily yelling at policemen who seemed to be ready for action (now I know that he’d been officially smacked).

In succession, the executive forces drove the demonstration towards Musikverein in various waves. At Cafe Museum, I left the demonstration for a while to accompany a handicapped demonstrator to the subway. She was frightened with panic, astonishingly not fearing radicals, but the police. At Getreidemarkt, me and other demonstrators decided to leave the demonstration to go to Babenbergerstraße. There I took a rest to observe what was still going on. Some youngsters had started to carry material from the construction site to the crossing (Babenbergerstr. / Getreidemarkt). What was striking was the nonchalance with which they were working. I suspected that the people who were observing them were civilian officers. It was peculiar that these people had 20 to 25 minutes time to drag this material and a container to the crossing, and to create a (rather loose) barrier from the construction grids, which reached into Mariahilferstr. It didn’t take very long that the water-cannons became visible. One person succeeded in attacking one of these cannons with a big concrete block from a very near distance, without having to fear any reaction from the executive forces. This happened at the Ring across the intersection to Babenbergerstr. The whole action seemed to have been observed and recorded by an official vehicle prepared for bugging operations.

A memory report.


Memory report # 7:

I was walking at the end of the demonstration. When I reached Schwarzenbergplatz, the square was empty. I only realized that the situation was a bit awkward. Walking towards Stadtpark, I saw one person I knew from the Thursday demonstrations. His face was covered with blood, his picture had appeared in “Der Standard.“ I ran up to help him. Since I was given a flyer with the phone number of legal support, I tried to find it again. Unfortunately I had lost the flyer. The man said that he was beaten by the police with a club.
While talking to him, we reached the police barrier. The injured person was taken aside by a friend. I wanted to return to my friends, towards Schwarzenbergplatz. Suddenly I saw how policewomen were beating a woman. I screamed, ran up there and yelled: “Stop beating this woman!“ Thereafter, some of them came towards me and hit my upper arm with a club. They knocked me down and one policeman got angry. He wanted to continue clubbing me, but his colleague prevented him from doing so. He said that they should leave me in peace. I was screaming and totally shocked – a world was destroyed. Two friends helped me out of this situation, taking me aside.
First, I contacted legal support, they informed me about further measures since my arm was “numb“ and still aching.


Memory report # 8:

I followed the demonstration from Ballhausplatz towards Schwarzenbergplatz.
When we stopped at Schwarzenbergplatz/Ring, I left my friend and started to walk around on my own, looking for my brother who also participated in the demonstration.
Suddenly the mass of people started to move very fast and came towards me. My first thought was that I shouldn’t fall down. But I could no longer move, I was petrified. Everything went so quickly.
I started to cry and stretched my hands out towards the sky. I kept saying: “I’m so afraid, I didn’t do anything ". And suddenly a policeman wearing a helmet and an entirely black uniform appeared, hit my left hip with a baton and ran away.
Beside me, another policeman had beaten a man who then had a bleeding wound. This man was lying on the ground until another demonstrator helped him up. I was totally shocked and got sick. I had to weep during the whole time.
Afterwards, I still tried to find my brother and friends. I saw a man with a camera and thought I’d have to tell him that a policeman had hit me without any reason. With a weeping face I said: “A policeman beat me although I didn’t do anything. He just kept beating me.” The man got angry at me and said: “That’s your fault, do you think you can ridicule us every Thursday, you dumb moron. You’d have to run away in time, it’s your own fault."
I was so shocked because I thought this man would help me. After he had said that, I asked him where he was from and who his boss was. Then I looked at his camera, which wasn’t as big as a camera from the public TV station, but still a bigger one. I saw a sticker in blue, black, and white, but I couldn’t read what it said, it was too dark. I left him and after 5 minutes I found my friends again.