Rioters Throw Stones and Fireworks As Police Close In On Berlin's 'Last Big Left-Wing Squat'

The residents of one of Berlin's last big left-wing squats fear that they'll be evicted as part of the gentrification of the city.
Police officers outside 94 Rigaer Strasse street in Berlin's Friedrichshain district on the 17th of June, 2021, where a fire protection inspection was planned by the fire department and is opposed by residents squatting in the building. ​Photo: John MACDO
Police officers outside 94 Rigaer Strasse street in Berlin's Friedrichshain district on the 17th of June, 2021, where a fire protection inspection was planned by the fire department and is opposed by residents squatting in the building. Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Sixty police officers were injured as squatters threw stones and fireworks during a riot in Berlin, Germany.

Police had declared a restricted area around Rigaer 94, a left-wing squat in Friedrichshain in the east of the city, banning all demonstrations in anticipation of a fire inspection planned for Thursday. Residents of the squat believe that the fire inspection is just a ploy for police to evict them.

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When police arrived to secure the area on Wednesday, they were met with burning barricades in the streets. Around 300 people threw stones and fireworks at them from the rooftops.

Police officers open the door to the house Rigaer 94 on Rigaer Straße in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Photo: Carsten Koall/picture alliance via Getty Images

Police officers open the door to the house Rigaer 94 on Rigaer Straße in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Photo: Carsten Koall/picture alliance via Getty Images

Police deployed water cannons to put out the fires. They also deployed climbing experts who scaled the buildings to clear rooftops of stones placed there by residents.

Rigaer is one of the last of Berlin’s big squats. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, anarchists, radicals and students occupied derelict buildings in the east of the city and brought them back to life.

The squats became hubs for the city’s radical and alternative culture, in turn making once dilapidated areas attractive to investment, leading to a process of gentrification.

Smoke rises at the house Rigaer 94 on Rigaer Strasse in Berlin-Friedrichshain when the door is opened by police officers. Photo: Carsten Koall/dpa

Smoke rises at the house Rigaer 94 on Rigaer Strasse in Berlin-Friedrichshain when the door is opened by police officers. Photo: Carsten Koall/dpa

Berliners have been struggling against the gentrification of their city for years now. The city passed a five-year rent-freeze in January 2020, but it was repealed in April 2021 after Germany’s highest court ruled that it was illegal. Rents in the city have risen by a third since 2015. 

In October 2020, policeevicted residents from Leibig34 in Freidrichshain, which had house an anarchist-queer-feminist community since 1999.