Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another day, another demo

Another day, another demo

This protester makes her position clear to the on-looking police officers. She doesn't want to have her city dug up over the next 10+ years in order to put the train station underground. Would you?

Following an alert on facebook at 9:15 a.m., Julia and I changed our plans and instead of going to the zoo, we went to see what the newest fence looked like. The Deutsche Bahn put a fence up the day after Germany celebrated its reunification for the 21st time. After showing some weakness by hinting that they had calculated how much it would cost to renege on their contracts (€1.5 bn), they countered with strength the morning after a long weekend. Several dozen protesters were able to situate themselves on the hill behind the fence before the last link was bolted shut. Then they were asked to leave.

Although the anti-escalation crew members were present and the police officers maintained their composure (for  the first couple of hours, anyway), even the strains of an accordion player couldn't help everyone remain calm. Tempers flared in some cases.

Ever get the feeling someone else is listening in on your conversation?
 A small group of students watched the demonstration while two squads of police officers prepared to march up to the fence.

Then one by one the protesters behind the fence were carried off to the police van, where their personal data were collected.

I heard someone say, "They get good-looking police officers so that the men don't act so aggressively."

I had to believe there was some truth to that theory when I saw the women in uniform up at the fence.

Helen and Harold Demure
Two protesters stayed up in a tree, assuming that it would be more difficult for them to be removed. They were finally brought down at 1:30 p.m.

The action is behind you!
The press was allowed behind the fence, as were several emergency medical technicians. However, then this EMT attempted to throw a safety rope up to the people in the tree, the police protested and dragged him off. He was very heavy and had a backpack on and took a tumble down the hill. I think I was the only one to get a picture of that.

Dietrich Wagner was left in peace and then left in peace
The 66-year-old protester who had nearly been blinded (he retained some eyesight in one eye but is legally blind) remained on the hill under the occupied tree, away from the main group of demonstrators. The police left him alone. On September 30, 2010, he was shot full in the face with a water canon during Germany's worst protest of the century.

The grass is not greener on the other side of this fence. Stuttgart has been split apart by this construction project. The past two days (Oct. 10-11, 2011) Stuttgart has been paralyzed by a strike by the tram and bus drivers. Yesterday there were 50 miles of traffic jams in and around the metropolis. Yesterday evening as I was going to pick up my son from the other side of town and had to detour around the weekly Stuttgart 21 protest at the train station, I tried to imagine what the traffic situation would be like with a huge pit in the middle of the city for 7-10 years and major delays and disturbances in public transport. That will be really messy. The two "stress tests" that the plans for the new train station have passed did not take into consideration the construction period and how it would affect the citizens of the metropolitan region of Stuttgart.

Modern weapons
A man who appeared to be the chief of police (he had about 6 stars on his shoulder) was positioned outside the fence and chatted amiably with the protesters, most of whom he appeared to know personally (from other demonstrations). Cell phones were in use on both sides of the fence, the police using them along with their radios to relay the newest commands down the line and the protesters to call other supporters. So who won at the end of the day? Well it is not as bad as in the Genesis song, "The Battle of Epping Forest", during which Peter Gabriel sings "There's no one left alive; it must be a draw. So the black-cap barons flip a coin to settle the score." However, the protesters were all carried off, Mr. Wagner rode away on his bicycle of his own accord and even though the police threatened to use mace (pepper spray) when the fence was nearly toppled, the day ended in a draw. It probably didn't hurt that the mounted police rode in to save the day!
The next day, a ditch was dug through the hillside so that blue pipes could be laid to pump out the ground water before the big dig. However, the following day the Deutsche Bahn was ordered to fill it back in.

1 comment:

  1. I just watched a documentary called Urbanized http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Urbanized/70218731?trkid=438403 which contains a fairly lengthy segment about Stuttgart 21 along with many examples of good city planning and poor. You might find it interesting.