One out, none in.
Photo: AFP/ ODD ANDERSEN

BerlinThe evacuation of the queer anarchist squat Liebig 34 in Friedrichshain began early Friday morning. The police approached the front door in an armoured vehicle and officers have now entered the building via a ladder. 

Officers began carrying people out around 8am. The first residents were led out of a broken window over a ladder down to the street. An hour later, police escorted a half dozen more women out as bystanders cheered. Police officers were spotted on the roof.

Police on the roof of the Liebig34 building on Friday morning.
Photo: AFP/Odd Andersen

A Berliner Zeitung reporter said parademics had entered the building and said there were rumours among activists of a fire inside.

"If we encounter violence, we'll be prepared. But we hope that it remains peaceful," police spokesman Thilo Cablitz told the Berliner Zeitung.

Earlier Friday morning, the police had announced: "The courts have established that the building at Liebigstr. 34 is being illegally occupied. The bailiff tried in vain to enforce the judgement. At his request, our colleagues have begun to evict the building by force."

Initially police were unable to enter the building because a makeshift wall had been erected. "We don't think someone will come out and hand us the key. We're ready for it to take several hours," police spokesman Cablitz said.

Moritz Heusinger, a lawyer representing the Liebig34 squatters told Berliner Zeitung that the eviction was illegal. The eviction notice was addressed towards the members of the Raduga Association – but they weren't even in the building. Everyone inside was a member of the Mittendrin Association, he said.

He told our reporter that the police had already reached the backyard, but that about 40 residents were still inside. He added that it would probably take hours to get everyone out.

"I reject violence. Also the [arson] attacks on the S-Bahn. But also by 2,500 police officers against 40 women," Heusinger said. He spoke of "war-like conditions", and said the police had no interest in de-escalation. He said he had not been given an opportunity to talk to the bailiff to try to de-escalate the situation. "I was here this morning, as agreed with him, but he refused to talk to me."

In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of demonstrators had already gathered behind bars in front of the corner building. Young people, mostly dressed in black, chanted slogans like "Houses to those who live in them!" or "All Berlin hates the police!"

The junction outside Liebig34 was illuminated by police floodlights early on Friday morning and the streets around Liebig34 were filling up with protesters streaming into the neighbourhood. Dozens of police vans were parked in the area.

Around 8am a bicycle demo of about 50 cyclists wound its way through the area, followed by several police vehicles.

The area around the building has been cordoned off since Thursday morning. All week there have been scuffles between leftwing supporters of Liebig34 and officers. Bottles were thrown at the police, several cars set on fire around the city.

Police cordon off the neighbourhood around Liebig34.
Berlin Foto Eric Richard

According to a police spokesman, there are about 1,500 demonstrators at the barriers. Around 8.20, the first arrests took place. Overall, however, the situation has so far been more peaceful than expected, said the spokesman.

We'll keep you posted as the story unfolds. In the meantime, why not follow Berliner Zeitung English Edition on Twitter?