No. 26—2024

Was ist eine Waffe?

Cornelia Herfurtner

Info: What is a weapon? reflects on the criminalization of passive armament [passive Bewaffnung] under §17a of the law of public assembly [Versammlungsgesetz]. The law prohibits the wearing of protective garments or the carrying of defensive objects that might interfere with the activities of the police or other German authorities at open-air political gatherings. The law ostensibly refers primarily to military- or police-issue body armor, shields, and gas masks. But it can be extended to refer to any protective gear including bike helmets, gloves, bandanas, swim goggles, balaclavas, even baseball hats. That means if you wear a scarf over your mouth to protect yourself from teargas at a demonstration, you could be fined or imprisoned for up to a year. If you defend yourself against the blows of a police baton, you can be arrested for interfering with the cops’ freedom to beat you with a baton. The law has been criticized because seemingly anything can qualify as passive armament if a cop perceives it as such. (…)

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