Anani Kassim (*) recently organized a barbecue. It was the festival of sacrifice, the highest holiday in Islam. Kassim had bought a slaughtered sheep for 200 euros, plus cheese for the vegetarians. Numerous neighbors celebrated, he says. He had also invited friends from other parts of the city. However, not a single one of them came. "That is really terrible," says Kassim. His friends all have valid papers. But they had no desire to be checked on the way to him by the police, who are mostly present in the district. He says, "This siege sucks."
Anani Kassim is 35 years old and comes from Togo. He came to Hamburg via Libya and Lampedusa. From 2014 he lived in a church on St. Pauli, in 2016 he moved about 200 meters further to Hafenstraße. And thus to the center of an ongoing conflict with no foreseeable end.
For more than four years, the Hamburg police have been trying to curb drug trafficking in the neighborhood with their own task force. And because the dealers between the Reeperbahn and the edge of the harbor are primarily of West African origin, the "Drugs Task Force" there controls predominantly people with black skin.
This is disputed at the political level: The Hamburg left-wing parliamentary group calls for the task force to be abolished. Activists criticize the controls as racist and stigmatizing. The police reject that. The question of whether their approach is actually lawful has not yet been clarified. This could change now. This Wednesday the Hamburg Administrative Court is hearing several lawsuits from Anani Kassim. He accuses the police of racial profiling. What is meant are controls for which an ethnic characteristic is the decisive reason.
Kassim says he wants to understand why he is not allowed to move freely on St. Pauli. Why someone was always after him. "I don't know why the Germans see us as criminals," he says. "We are not human here in Europe."
The negotiation takes place at a time when racial profiling is being discussed more publicly in Germany than it has ever been before, but that came about by chance. Kassim's first lawsuit came from February 2017 and was initially directed against two controls. Because administrative procedures drag on for a long time, further incidents have occurred in the meantime: Kassim was checked again in November 2017. And again in April 2018. Against this he had a lawsuit filed - and was checked several times. Kassim says he doesn't remember how often it happened, he didn't count. His lawyer Carsten Gericke explains that at some point the decision was made against extending the procedure even further.
Seven days before the start of the process, the petite man is sitting in Gericke's office in Altona. In order not to be associated with the procedures later in his life, he would like to speak about his experiences with a changed name. He wears a black T-shirt from the Golden Poodle Club and tells of how the officers searched his pants, how they shined a flashlight in his eyes, how they handcuffed him and took him to the station. The controls often made him angry, he says, but now he's trying to take it easy. He sounds worn out when he talks about it. The controls seem to have bothered him. But were they also illegal?