Berlin cops have their own rightwing chat groups

Investigators are looking into allegations of racist online remarks. If true, the investigation could lead to dismissal or criminal charges.

What are you talking about?
What are you talking about?Photo: Imago images

Berlin-Police on Thursday launched an investigation into a possible rightwing chat group where more than 25 officers reportedly shared racist jokes and had rightwing discussions.

The investigation follows a report by public broadcaster ARD that said seven officers regularly made questionable and racist statements, including jokes, that were then met with approval in the chat group by their superiors.

"We communicate openly and transparently whenever there are racists in the Berlin police force," police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said in a statement. "It's inacceptable to know there are people among us who, because of their background, put themselves above others and damage the reputation of an entire profession."

If true, Berlin would just be the latest German force with rightwing officers. Last month 29 officers in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, were suspended after they shared far-right propaganda and violent imagery depicting immigrants.

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In Hesse, home to financial capital Frankfurt, investigators have also worked for the past two years to ferret out a rightwing conflagration that sent death threats to leftwing politicians and defense attorneys. The threats were sometimes traced back to police equipment.

In the Berlin chat, the ARD programme "monitor" said Muslims were described as a "fanatical primate culture" and refugees were equated with rapists and rats. Neo-Nazis were touted as possible "allies" at leftist demonstrations.

Superiors had warned in an e-mail that officers should refrain from sharing any content that might be subject to criminal prosecution.

"If the accusations are true, this is absolutely unacceptable and has nothing to do with a modern, cosmopolitan capital city police force," Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel said during the programme.