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Current News
Statement of the Alliance
Press Review

Current News
Award "Goldenes Rückgrat/Golden Backbone"

We cordially invite you to

the award of the “Goldenes Rueckgrat/Golden Backbone”
on 19 May 2009 at 7 pm
in the large hall of the
Offenes Kulturhaus Upper Austria
Dametzstrasse 30, 4020 Linz

It cannot be that civil courage is politically penalized in our country.

Especially in times of crisis, in which media and politics like to appeal to the fundamental principles of human communality, it is a scandal that a member of our community is punished and subjected to political pressure for attempting to prevent violence against someone weaker.
We specifically refer to the events of 1 May 2009 in Linz and to the arrest of the Vice Rector of the Art University, Rainer Zendron. The few statements from politicians that have made it into the media have all been personal attacks – see, for instance, commentaries in the newspaper OOe Nachrichten from 4 May 2009 – and only a few public voices have spoken up in his defence. Therefore, it is up to us as committed members of the Art University Linz to put Rainer Zendron as a person and in his importance for the way our university works into the right light.

For this reason, we have initiated a distinction that is to be awarded annually starting this year to those persons who have especially distinguished themselves by their outstanding civil courage.
This prize is to be ceremoniously awarded on 19 May 2009 at 7 pm in the large hall of the Offenes Kulturhaus Upper Austria to Vice Rector Rainer Zendron.

In this way, we seek to demonstrate not only that we take a position as a united body – as the university – on this situation set in motion by the incident on May 1st, but also to express solidarity with the victims of police violence and arbitrariness, who unfortunately have no lobby in the media.

We are an educational institution! And we will not accept being put under pressure, neither from the media nor from party politics! And we call for the charges against Rainer Zendron and the other persons arrested on 1 May 2009 to be dropped!

Statement of the Alliance
Alliance Declaration, Linz, 3 May 2009

Against Police Violence and for Freedom of Demonstration
Alliance Against Police Violence Condemns the Excessive Police Action on May 1st

We were shocked and appalled to learn on 1 May 2009 that the officially authorized alternative May Demonstration was prevented and broken up by the Linz police. The right to demonstrate is a constitutional right and an essential cornerstone of our democracy. According to the police, a violation of the ban on masks, in other words a regulation offense, was the reason for the police intervention. As numerous photos and videos unequivocally document, however, no one can be seen masked from the beginning to the end of the period that they were surrounded by the police. Why the police continue to maintain this statement is a mystery to us. And even if some individuals had been masked in the beginning, this cannot justify such a forceful intervention – including against those seeking to mediate.

The general mood in the anti-fascist bloc, as confirmed by numerous witnesses, was peaceful and calm. The demo would have taken place as it has every year, there have never been problems before. Why the police speak of an unprecedented potential for danger is thoroughly incomprehensible.
The subsequent escalation – attacks with clubs and pepper spray on the part of the police – just like the brutal arrests, was unprovoked and wholly excessive. The mistreatment of the vice-rector of the Art University, Rainer Zendron, documented on ORF film material, is only one example of the scandalous proceedings of the police. Other people arrested were treated substantially more brutally. The ORF video shows a policeman beating a demonstrator over a dozen times. The demonstrator consequently required treatment in the city hospital.

All of this happened while neo-nazis – with raised hands – strolled largely unhindered through the city, stopping by not only the May 1st Demo, but also a picnic organized by an association for children. At this time it is still unclear whether the escalation on the part of the police was due to the director of operations being unable to cope with the situation on site, or whether the escalation was intentional.

We expressly welcome the investigation announced the Security Director Lißl, and we are certain that the analysis of the different source material will reveal the cause of the events of May 1st. The events of May 1st are not only highly alarming in terms of democracy, they also counter the attempts of the City of Linz to present itself as an open city of culture.

We call for a full investigation and account of the police operation, an immediate halt of the legal proceedings, and a return to democratic rules of engagement and freedom of demonstration.

The Alliance Against Police Violence was spontaneously formed and is already supported by 110 organizations and over 300 individuals. (as of 5 May 2009, 9:30 pm)

Press Review
Linz, 2 May 2009

Report from Indymedia Austria: http://at.indymedia.org/node/14323

May 1st should have been as quiet as all the others that preceded this one. A march from the Blumau to the main square, a few speeches and then goulash and beer for lunch. But this year someone obviously did not want the local anti-fascist bloc to take part in this demonstration and got the police to stop it ("Someone with a degree decided that," said one policeman). Shortly before the march was to move, a row of policemen prevented the last bloc from leaving. This bloc was then surrounded by the police who justified their actions by saying they were afraid that hooded demonstrators could cause trouble. The rest of the march showed their solidarity by also not beginning to march. This was followed by a few minutes of confusion on the part of the police force, who then began to single out demonstrators to check their identification. This included certain demonstrators being photographed whilst holding name-signs. Most people who were selected, however, did not comply with this voluntarily and the general sentiment in the surrounding crowd got louder and louder. The police reacted by escalating the brewing violence and brutally arrested a young girl. When a few of the demonstrators tried to help the girl, the police responded with more violence. One of these demonstrators was the vice-rector of the local art university, who was brutally pinned down on the ground by 6 officers and arrested (one police officer broke his bat and boasted about that fact later on).

From this point onwards the police became ever more brutal, revealing the strategy of escalation more and more clearly. By this time the police officers started to loosen the circle around the demonstrators by beating individuals out of the circle and arresting people (Quote: "Of course we need to resort to violence, we can't just tickle you out!"). The police also made heavy use of their pepper spray, though by doing this they sometimes injured each other (although that will most probably be pinned on the demonstrators). After the police opened the circle surrounding the march, the demonstrators began to move towards the main square, without any police accompaniment. The demonstration went off without any incidents (seeing as there was no police to incite any violence), which shows that the argument put forth by the police earlier, that they were worried about violent behavior, was completely absurd. On the main square the demonstration encountered a group of fascists, who attacked the march. Suddenly the police was present again and another 2 leftist demonstrators were arrested, while the Nazis were told to move out of the way and from then on left alone.

Shortly afterwards the demonstration dissolved. That evening the arrested demonstrators were released, but they will most probably be charged with resisting arrest or aggressive behavior. In the next few days there will be solidarity actions on behalf of our arrested and charged comrades.

Linz, 1 May 2009

Press Statement from the Action Committee May 1st

The non-party and internationalist Action Committee May 1st protests emphatically against the unjustified and disproportional police action that led to the obstruction of the traditional peaceful left-wing May Demonstration in Linz. The Action Committee calls for the immediate release of all those unjustly arrested and for political consequences against those responsible for this police action on the part of the Ministry of the Interior.

Under the pretext of the ban against wearing masks that can be arbitrarily interpreted (the police interpret sunglasses as a mask), the police pursued a strategy of escalation for no evident reason. In the course of this, they demanded identification from some of the demonstrators and achieved it in part through brutal police violence. The police used tear gas and clubs, and demonstrators were pressed against the ground by multiple policemen, who bound their hands with cable ties. A number of people, including women and minors, were injured.

In reaction to the massive deployment of over a hundred policemen, the demonstrators showed exemplary solidarity with those people surrounded by the police. All anti-fascists and democrats who uphold the conventional rules for demonstrations can take part in the May Demonstration of the Action Committee, which was also the case with this year’s demonstration – until the police started their provocation.

The protest against the proceedings of the police was justified and necessary in the view of the Action Committee. Nor will the Action Committee accept in the future that the police define who is permitted to join the demonstration, and will act in solidarity with these participants in the future as well.

The Action Committee calls on all democrats, social democrats, communists and everyone on the left to protest against this police provocation that is shocking in Austria, and to oppose an increase in this kind of repression under the impression of growing manifestations of crisis, which threatens fundamental democratic rights like the freedom of demonstration.

Action Committee May 1st: ADA (Alternative Solidarity) – ADGH (Democratic
Youth Movement in Austria) – ADHF (Federation for Democratic Rights in
Austria) – AMARA (Kurdish Women’s Association) – ATIGF (Federation of Workers
and Youth from Turkey in Austria) – Women’s Group FRAGE – GLB –
KJÖ-Oberösterreich – KPÖ – Kurdish Exile Community – MKM (Mesopotamyia
Anatolian Culture Association) – RKJV – Chess Association Spartakus – SLP –
Umut-Kulturzentrum – Verein Begegnung Arcobaleno – Verein LIBIB – YDG (New
Democratic Youth); Volksfront

Press release from the Communist Part of Austria (KPÖ), 1 May 2009

Police Provocation Against May 1st Demonstration

Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) Calls for Political Consequences

“It is a historical breach that the left-wing May 1st demonstration today was blocked by massive police provocation. The first May Demonstration since 1945, since the time of fascism,” declared the KPÖ district chairman Roland Hochstöger. “It is a political breach that the police have taken such massive action against a properly registered, left-wing demonstration, while neo-nazis can gang together elsewhere,” continued Hochstöger.

First the registered demonstration was prevented from starting for hours under the pretext of implausible objections, because the police wanted identification of the participants, including photos. “No one sneaked into the demonstration without permission, as the police maintained. The police pursued a clear strategy of escalation, their presence and their actions were disproportional, exaggerated and highly provocative,” according the the KPÖ district chairman. The brutal arrest of the Vice Rector of the Art University, Rainer Zendron, shows what the police were aiming for. The right to freedom of demonstration, a constitutional right, is being trampled, said Hochstöger.

It should also be noted that the police do not undertake attacks of this kind of their own accord, as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has indicated. This action must have been prompted by higher authorities. Hochstöger therefore calls for those responsible in the city government and the district administration office to be brought to justice. “If this is Linz 09 as the European Capital of Culture, where peaceful, registered demonstrations are beaten down and nazi gangs are left undisturbed, then good night,” concluded Roland Hochstöger.

Linz, 2 May 2009

maiz protests against police violence on May 1st

maiz intended to call attention to the difficult working and living conditions of precariously employed migrant women in actionist form at the May Demonstration, and to remember the 10th anniversary of the death of Marcus Omofuma. However, repressive reality got ahead of us.

The autonomous bloc section of the May 1st demonstration was met with a disproportionately large deployment of police, surrounded and subjected to “police procedures” for three hours. At least eight demonstrators, including youth, but also the vice-rector of the Art University, Rainer Zendron, were violently pulled out of the demonstration and arrested.

The de facto ban on the alternative May 1st demonstration and the subsequent orgy of violence on the part of out-of-control cultural capital sherifs was justified by the police by alleged transgressions of the ban against masks. Official reports mention about 50 people in the autonomous bloc, which they claim were dressed in a manner not in keeping with the law. As eye witnesses we saw that these so-called “masks” consisted essentially of hooded sweaters, sun glasses and caps. At the demonstration the police themselves announced via megaphone that there were a few people whose dress was “against regulations”. A few hours later this number rose dramatically.

“Linz changes”? It appears that the police will use any force to impose the image of a clean, orderly, compliant Capital of Culture – an easily consumable city of tourism and event attractions. But who does a city like this have room for?

Are we headed for times in which fundamental rights may be abolished for trivial reason? Or perhaps: How far have we already come along this path? Whereas right-wing student leagues and neo-nazis may gather undisturbed in the Capital of Culture, this is the first time that a May 1st demonstration has been stopped with brutal police violence since 1945.

The only positive aspect here is the solidarity that was evident today. Several demonstration blocs refused to move on as long as the anti-fascist and autonomous bloc was obstructed by the police. Their presence was not able to hinder the police violence, but certainly limited it.

Maiz emphatically calls for upholding the fundamental right of free expression.

Equal privileges for all!

Witnesses to the occurences at the May 1st demo are being sought. Please contact: antifa@servus.at (the email address of the platform against the Nazi parade on May 1st in Linz: http://antifa.servus.at). In addition, a legal assistance bank account has been opened. Please transfer donations to:
Kulturverein Treibsand
Sparda-Bank Linz. BLZ: 49460, KNr: 426781. Reason for payment: legal assistance

MAIZ – Autonomous Center of & for Migrant Women