Zoom Image

Aerial view of Görlitzer Park

Photo: Emmanuele Contini / IMAGO

Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Iris Spranger (SPD), and police representatives want to curb drug trafficking and other crime in Görlitzer Park in Kreuzberg with fencing, more lighting and video surveillance at the entrances. Spranger spoke on RBB Inforadio of making Görlitzer Park a "model park" through a "fundamental revision". The responsible district office, led by the Greens and the Left, rejects a fence and prefers more money for social workers.

In Görlitzer Park and the entire surrounding area, there has been intensive drug trafficking for well over ten years. Dozens of dealers stand in the park and side streets all day, offering marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. Other crimes also play a role. The reason for the current debate is an alleged gang rape of a woman by several men at the end of June. Governing Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) announced a security summit for the beginning of September.

Spranger pleaded for a fence of the park, which could then be closed at night. The entrances should be monitored with video cameras. Video surveillance of the entire park, as CDU politicians had demanded, was not realistic. More lighting is also needed so that women and children in particular feel safer, Spranger said. The police had tested a strong lighting with headlights in the past week, which had been very well received by the residents. In addition, the bushes would have to be better cared for so that drugs could no longer be hidden there. All measures could only be implemented together with the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.

There was no mention in the interview of a tougher approach by the police against the drug trade in the park, which has been rampant for many years. Spranger emphasized that the police had recently completed 70,000 hours of operation there and in the surrounding area, compared to only 1400 hours in Gleisdreieckpark.

The police union in Berlin (GdP) sees the district in particular as having a duty. Its regulatory and security policy is "catastrophic," according to spokesman Benjamin Jendro. Definitely, more light, fencing and also a security service are conceivable. From the district, however, only friendly hints for the dealers and the call for cannabis legalization came. We are not only talking about this park, but also about many drug hotspots in the district. Nothing has changed in decades.

Calls for more social work

The deputy mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Oliver Nöll (Left), admitted on the RBB radio station "Radio Eins" that the park was not "necessarily a feel-good zone" for the people in the district. Nevertheless, Wegner's proposals are populist. He had expressed himself in a similar way to Spranger. Instead of a fence, more social workers are needed in the vicinity of the park, but the Senate would have to give more money for this. It is not the district that is responsible, but a strategy of the entire city is needed.

Vasili Franco, a politician for the Greens, said that the poor situation in Görlitzer Park was "not a consequence of the absence of police," but a "problem of social impoverishment." A closure of the park will only push the problems further into hallways and backyards. A lot of money is needed "for social work, addiction support or a structural redesign".

In the statistics of the police, 1567 crimes were counted for the Görlitzer Park and the Wrangelkiez last year. That was about as many crimes as in all other parks combined. Among the most common offenses were drug trafficking and residence violations, which are particularly noticeable because the police carry out daily checks there. These figures say nothing about the dangers in the park. According to the police, a similar number of sexual offenses are registered there as in other parks.