The situation at some Berlin outdoor pools escalated – now even employees have been attacked by a mob. Several young men attacked security service employees with sticks and tear gas in the outdoor pool on Columbiadamm – out of frustration at their expulsion.
Eleven people were injured in the group’s attack on Tuesday evening, and the fire brigade arrived with several ambulances. The Neuköllner Bad had to be cleared.
“The clashes in the summer swimming pool in Neukölln have reached a level we have never seen before,” said the CEO of the Berlin pool company, Johannes Kleinsorg, on Wednesday. Police chief Barbara Slowik has now announced a tougher pace.
“The Berlin police will not tolerate such behavior and will take action against it with police presence measures – with officers in uniform and in civilian clothes,” Slowik told the Tagesspiegel. “This incident has a new quality and has nothing to do with the disputes that we know from the past months and years.”
First of all, the focus for the police is on the Columbiabad, while the police are keeping an eye on the other bathing establishments. Police officers were already patrolling Columbiabad on Wednesday. There will also be a so-called mobile guard there on Thursday, a van with three officers in which reports can be processed and witnesses can be heard. The security services in the outdoor pools should also be strengthened again, announced the head of the pool, Kleinsorg.
The trigger for the riot on Tuesday evening: The group of up to twelve people had already been expelled from the baths around 6.30 p.m. because of another brawl – and they were apparently angry about it. After being thrown out, the group simply pushed back into the outdoor pool around 7:30 p.m.
The young men jumped the fence or went through the main entrance. There they are said to have attacked security service employees and used pepper spray, and a security guard was hit in the face. The attackers are also said to have been armed with striking tools, and witnesses unanimously reported using clubs.
The attackers were primarily targeting three members of the security service, the security guards fled from the group into the lifeguard watchtower and locked themselves in there. The mob of outdoor pool thugs then tried to break down the door, but failed.
When the alarmed police arrived, the young men fled in different directions. However, officers then found three of the alleged attackers in a small car near the outdoor pool. The men, aged 19, 23 and 24, a German-Lebanese and two Germans with Arabic roots, were provisionally arrested. According to Tagesspiegel information, they are already known to the police and have been noticed with assault offenses or driving without a license.
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Police found a knife on the 23-year-old driver, a baton under the passenger seat and a baseball bat in the trunk. The police confiscated all the items. After the three men in police custody had been identified, they were released. The police are investigating because of a particularly serious breach of the peace.
The fire brigade first raised an alarm for a so-called mass casualty incident (MANV). The fire brigade in the rescue service was already overburdened and the rescue service was once again in a state of emergency due to a lack of rescue vehicles. Four ambulances and two ambulances arrived, as well as a special vehicle for medical supplies.
A total of eleven people between the ages of 15 and 49 were injured in the mob attack, mainly due to the massive use of tear gas, including six bathers, four security service employees and one rescue service employee. “They complained of eye irritation and respiratory problems,” said a spokesman for the Berlin police.
Three of the bathers came to a hospital for further treatment, the rest of the injured received outpatient treatment on site. Two men, including one from the security service, said they were hit in the face.
[Read more at Tagesspiegel Plus: summer, sun, blows: outdoor pool danger zone – where does the violence at the pool come from?]
Because of the confusing situation, the police cleared the outdoor pool. The Columbiadamm was closed to car traffic because of the operation between Lilienstrasse and Fontanestrasse.
Again and again there are aggressions, violence and disputes in Berlin’s outdoor pools. In the Columbiabad, after fights at the end of June, the security staff was to be increased. A mass riot broke out after a water pistol dispute.
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A 21-year-old British woman and her companions had complained about being sprayed with water guns by children. A man got involved and also sprayed the woman in the face. Then the woman spat on the man, he hit him with the water pistol – the woman suffered a broken nose. Alerted police officers and security guards were then aggressively harassed by up to 250 bathers when they tried to clear the bath.
A week earlier there had been a similar incident at the Bad Insulaner in Steglitz: after a splash with water guns and a subsequent argument, a mass brawl broke out there involving around one hundred people. The police moved in with 13 patrol cars and parts of a hundred units to calm the situation.
According to Tagesspiegel information, the police are present with stripes in the outdoor pools on Columbiadamm and in the Steglitzer Bad Insulaner on Wednesday.
The interior administration sees no increase in violent incidents in outdoor pools. “The Senate is critical of the incidents, but also points out that – contrary to the perception of parts of the public – these are exceptional incidents and that the operation of the Berlin summer pools is generally peaceful and safe,” says one Answer to a parliamentary question.
In bathrooms, around them and on beaches, 35 cases of physical injury were recorded in the statistics for 2017, 82 in 2018 and 76 in 2019. 50 cases were registered for 2020, then 34 in 2021 – these two years are, however, because of the Corona -Pandemic usable with restrictions, access to outdoor pools was partly limited.
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By the end of May, the police had recorded ten violent crimes in outdoor pools, four of which involved people with “non-German nationality”. By the end of June, the police had been alerted eleven times because of a fight in the Berlin open-air pools, three of them and thus most of them were in June in the summer pool at the Insulaner, in the Plötzensee lido, in the summer pools at the Olympic Stadium and in Neukölln.
“The phenomenon of ‘outdoor pool conflicts’ occurs seasonally and repeatedly,” says a police spokeswoman. “When looking at the figures for the offense of assault, it can be seen that these currently show no obvious deviations compared to previous years.”
In view of the midsummer heat, Berlin’s bathing establishments are experiencing a large rush in the outdoor pools these days. On Tuesday morning, the online ticket shop capitulated to the rush of heat. As was the case several times on hot days, the booking platform was unable to cope with the great rush and failed again in the morning, said spa spokesman Matthias Oloew of the dpa news agency.
They are working at full speed to get the shop going again. “But we can not say how long it will take,” said Oloew. As a result, bathers would only have to resort to the pool registers, which would inevitably involve waiting times. The good news on Wednesday, which is supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far: the online shop worked flawlessly in the early morning.