Waiblingen / backnang: “it is the attraction of the forbidden”
Peter Honle and Armin Holp often have the same opinion during a dispute. Photo: Horst Rudel
What consequences should be drawn from the two Backnang Facebook parties in summer 2012? The professional youth Armin Holp and the professional police officer Peter Honle express their point of view in a dispute
Waiblingen / Backnang. The deputy head of the police department, Peter Honle, says there was no choice: The Facebook parties in Backnang had to be banned. Armin Holp, the former chairman of the youth center Backnang, holds against it: Only prohibit without alternative suggestions, that would be "devastating". Mr. Honle, Mr. Holp, the two Facebook parties in Backnang in the summer had to be banned? Peter Honle It was not a succinct Facebook party, but a Project X party. It was also about destruction, about alcohol consumption. We had to build ahead. It was clear to us that this should not take place in this form in Backnang. Armin Holp I’m also not a supporter of this party. For me, the question is different: Wouldn’t it have been better if you had acted differently? The ban has made it possible to turn a barbecue party into chaos, to distribute the youth across the whole city, to frustrate them, to say: You are angry because you want to celebrate here.
What alternative do you propose? Holp One could also have said: That you want to celebrate here is basically okay, but it’s just not okay that rubbish is left lying around, that destruction takes place, that perhaps ambulances are bound because you are celebrating here unannounced. The message that has been sent out of mere prohibition is devastating. Honle There were two Facebook parties in Backnang. In the first, we took exactly this line. We had the intention to say: We rely on insight and achieve that the young people understand that there is a problem in the crowd. We wanted to make people turn around on their own. Incidentally, it was by no means just a barbecue party. That was not the goal of Project X. We had to clarify what could happen in the worst case. The first party that took place resulted in bodily harm and destruction. We didn’t have a choice. Holp You should have shown the youth an alternative, could have said: the slab forest is perhaps not ideal, better go down to the Scheuerwiesen, there are no residents, we have already set up toilets for you. 20 stewards and the infrastructure would have cost about ten percent of the use of the helicopter.
That would have been enough? Holp At the party one should have tried to enter into a peaceful dialogue with the young people. That would have been the better option. The message would have been: It’s great that you’re celebrating. I always think it’s good when young people meet non-commercially. In Backnang, unfortunately, you are no longer allowed to celebrate at a barbecue area, and you are no longer allowed to meet at gas stations. There are no spaces in the city center. The youth lack space. Less than ten percent were certainly violent.
On May 1st there is also a celebration on the Hanweiler Sattel near Korb. People come en masse. The community and the police create a framework and set up toilets. Why not here and at the Facebook party? Honle The goal is different. Project X wanted to have fire and flame, sink an S-Class Mercedes in the Murr. This is not the case on the Hanweiler saddle. You have to differentiate between a pure Facebook party, i.e. a modern invitation via the Internet, because then I have a manageable mass. But in Backnang we had an incalculable number of people. We didn’t have a contact with whom we could discuss escape routes. The police is an experienced profession. If something had happened, then we should have been told: You knew about the accident that happened at the Love Parade in Duisburg. If an organizer had invited the barbecue party, it would have been no problem to make the celebration possible.
What do you think of the suggestion to use the scrub meadows?? Honle nothing. Space didn’t matter to the people. The event takes place where the majority come: on the station forecourt, on the street in the Aldi parking lot in the schoolyard – no matter where. We had to live up to our mission – even when people consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Holp No question about it, it’s not okay for parties like this to be proclaimed. But is it not possible to separate the youngsters? Most of them weren’t rioters. But they managed to tell the many peaceful people: You will not get any further here, the Project X people are already waiting for you. Everyone always accuses the youth, why can’t one accuse Facebook? Why can someone even invite a few thousand guests to a party with a false name??
Have you tried to find the initiator on Facebook?? Honle That was not feasible in a reasonable amount of time. But we tried everything to keep people from coming to Backnang. We bet on the press, on appearances on the Internet, on treadmills on the trains, we distributed flyers that said: The Facebook party has been canceled. We have been taught otherwise: we couldn’t do without pressure. Bottles were thrown, the rescue workers were handicapped, it was very frustrating.
Mr. Holp, you say that everything could have been done differently. Who are you Specifically: the youth center could have acted as the organizer? Holp We asked ourselves at the time whether we should try to recruit young people at the train station. That would have been a size too big for us. But you could have done it together: with free entry to a concert in the Juze, with free entry to local discos. And the people who don’t go there despite the ban could have been left to the police. We would of course have been grateful to Honle for that. I underline the proposal to change the name of a Facebook party 100 percent. But the prerequisite is always: I need a contact person, for example the Juze. But it wasn’t like that. Holp It’s fair to say that everyone involved had far too little time to react adequately. Nevertheless, we all have to admit defeat.
Why did the matter escalate?? Honle Many have let themselves be incited by ringleaders. Holp That was very borderline. Even so, the question remains: how do we get our normal youngsters away from it? If you want to appease young people, then the police seem strange to many. Others might have had to do that: Arbitrators, i.e. trained, specially trained young people. Honle So-called communications officers were also on duty. Holp That was maybe the mistake. Celebrations and officials – these are two things that bite each other. For the youth, the police are always the ones who come because of the disturbance of the peace. Honle We also have experience. We expect incidents, including rioting, with certain people. These are not prejudices, but – as I said – experiences. We had a role to play, and after the storm we provided dripping wet young people with blankets and transported them. Holp Basically: if we take action against our own young people with helicopters, vans and hundreds, then something is going wrong socially. However, this accusation does not affect the police, who have to perform their tasks. Honle At the first party we had no box vans. We approached the young people, handed out flyers that said: go back, have insight. It did not work.
Perhaps the party only became interesting for rioters after the ban? Holp Many young people say: that was great, we finally put up a fight. We fight back our freedom. Honle That’s right, it’s a shame that it’s often no longer possible to grill a sausage in a meadow. One problem is the mass, which can only be mobilized with a click of the mouse. I think it’s frightening how few celebrations so many young people are satisfied with. They go to a canceled party where nothing is going on. There are no toilets, nothing to drink, they have to walk for kilometers to a meadow – and come to the conclusion: it was a beautiful day. That’s a very sad assessment. Holp It’s the attraction of the forbidden. Honle The consequence of the first assignment was: No second party of this size may take place in Backnang. Holp I agree with you. Honle At the second event in Backnang, we had no property damage. We put so much information on the Internet that nobody came. If I judge the matter from a police point of view, our work has had an impact. Holp We still have to ask ourselves how we want to deal with such events and the topic of celebrations. Psychologically, partying is about mating. Women want to get to know men, men women. We are a society with few children – do we want to commercialize the pairing, leave it to the discos? I find that questionable.
Who could have taken responsibility for an open party?? Holp That was probably a size too big for Backnang, but maybe you could have a Facebook party at Cannstatter Wasen with an organizer. To take the wind out of the sails of the phenomenon. Honle I agree with you – only: who organizes it? Who pays for it? Perhaps for some people the only goal is to get the police to move the Facebook party from Backnang to Schorndorf with one click of the mouse. I underline Mr Holp’s suggestions: give the youth a platform, an outlet, involve the youth, take them seriously and don’t push them away. However: this is only partially a police task. Holp This won’t be a long-term thing. But the youth will upgrade. They want to celebrate and there are no places. I hardly think that young people are now saying: Okay, the party has been banned, let’s just meet in the evening to knit. Honle The police do not want to ban celebrations, but we have to take precautions so that nothing happens.