Emergency brake - with Gandhi and mask against curfews

With Gandhi and a mask against curfews

Creative protest against measures such as curfews could also be organized here

Photo: Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images

The Rheinboulevard in Cologne-Deutz is a popular meeting place in summer. From the bank stairs you have the best view of the cathedral and the panorama of the old town on the other side of the river. The Rheinboulevard serves as an open-air living room for the young people from the small apartments in the neighboring districts. A colorful mix of tourists and locals enjoy the sun well into the evening, but when the weather is good it gets pretty crowded. This is a constant cause for concern for the communal Corona crisis team: On the first warm days before Easter, the public order office moved in and unceremoniously sealed off the entire site.

In a few weeks at the latest, when the days get longer and it stays light until 22 p.m., there could be trouble in such places in Germany. The conflicts with the police on the Hamburg Alster and on Stuttgart's Schloßplatz already provided a foretaste of this. In a park near the city center of Brussels, equestrian squadrons and water cannons attacked thousands of visitors to a music festival announced on the Internet, which in retrospect turned out to be an April Fool's joke.

Ironically, the 68ers are particularly docile

These incidents are a beacon - and a warning signal to politicians who can only think of a "hard lockdown" with the flimsy addition of "short". Aerosol researchers have just pointed out that the risk of infection is much lower outdoors than indoors. The fact that, in spite of this, and again, exclusively private contacts should be regulated, reinforces the already rampant corona blues. The mechanisms of social segregation that a pandemic fight with repressive means are also clearly coming to light. Because Curfews or blocked public green spaces primarily affect disadvantaged and low-income groups. They often live in confined spaces, and they certainly don't have their own garden.

The saturated pensioner, who is out and about with his dog in the evenings, is not interested in the division in society or in the boys' need for contact and celebration. Ironically, the generation cohort of the “68ers”, who once rebelliously demonstrated against the emergency laws with sit-ins and blockades, is currently particularly docile. According to surveys, older people over the age of 70 are more in favor of authoritarian rule. In the political arena, too, the nodding of resolutions predominates, and there is shockingly little counter-speech from the opposition Greens or Leftists. Only sporadically, so in that Calling the Friday, arouses criticism from celebrities. Serious protest against the blatant restriction of basic rights, which cannot be lumped together with “aluminum hats” or right-wing extremists, is currently difficult to spark.

Flash mobs and fun guerrillas against curfews

Not to wear masks during demonstrations and to forego sufficient distance, as corona deniers and conspiracy theorists do provocatively, is completely out of the question. But how about a contemporary, updated adoption of the methods of Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King? Imaginative resistance in the tradition of the fun guerrilla: For example, parallel flash mobs are organized across the city via the internet. Small groups “meet” near public, nonsensically cordoned off places - at a distance from each other, spray cans brought along mark a distance of two meters. The goals of the protest would still be clearly recognizable, exhausted within the framework and on the verge of legality - as in Mutlangen or Gorleben, as civil rights activists once crossed the Selma bridge in Alabama despite a ban and a massive police presence.

Such forms of action need planning and discipline. Many annoyed young people who feel very well that the decreed curfews are primarily directed against them are missing from this. As in Brussels, they just hit it, smash the windows of emergency vehicles. Of course, this is just as unhelpful as hygiene demonstrations without a gap and mask. So it's about organizing alliances between milieus that are different but could discover similarities. It was no different in the peace or anti-nuclear movement. Perhaps this will even convince parts of the “lateral thinkers” - who should stop doing common cause with right-wing extremists.

Thomas Gesterkamp is a doctor of political science and journalist in Cologne