Berlin - Police ensuring compliance with the city’s corona rules over the weekend broke up a party being held by a sex-positive art collective at Mitte’s Alte Münze on Saturday night.
Guests were sent home after police arrived and determined it was impossible to maintain minimum distancing.
"There were simply too many people for too little space," police said. In a tweet published on Saturday, the event was dubbed a "fetish party".
The event organiser, Pornceptual, an art collective which throws sex-positive parties and creates pornographic art and a magazine, could now face legal proceedings over the incident. Police confirmed that organisers ended the party when officials asked them to do so, and that the guests were immediately sent home.
However, the collective has since put out its own statement, claiming the party was a “legal open air event with strict rules” and a rigorous hygiene concept, which it says eyewitnesses can vouch for. This included guests’ temperatures being taken on arrival and a security team making sure masks were being worn at all times.
The organisers also claimed police were “misinformed” on the current corona rules, were “looking for reasons” to shut the party down and treated attendees with disrespect.
“When the Ordnungsamt (Office of Public Order) arrived and asked us to stop the event, we collaborated [with them] and asked all guests to leave the premises as instructed,” the statement reads. "Our guests were treated as freaks and outlaws and humiliated by the police.”
The organisers added that media outlets had also singled out their party, ignoring other open-air events shut down by police on Saturday night. They said being part of the fetish community had been painted as “shameful”, and that one police officer involved had used the words “disgusting and perverted.”
“This was not only an attack on culture but also its minorities,” the statement concluded. “We will keep standing up regardless of all the difficulties of these times. We will stand up for our community and fight for our space in this city.”
A statement from venue Alte Münze said the party was shut down by police at 9pm, one hour before it was due to finish, and claimed “social distancing and wearing a mask at the same time while being outdoors is not part of the current regulations”. The statement also condemned the use of “scandalous language” like “fetish party” to “deliberately criminalise a permitted event.”
The party was shut down amid a dedicated police operation on Saturday which saw hundreds of officers out on the street making sure Berlin’s corona safety laws were being observed. The deployment of 1000 officers during the day, half of them from Germany’s federal police, was approved by Berlin's interior minister Andreas Geisel (SPD) and German government interior minister Horst Seehofer (CSU).
From Saturday, masks had to be worn and minimum distancing upheld at open air markets and on ten designated shopping streets. Between 80 and 90 per cent of the 47,355 people inspected by police between 10am and 6pm on Saturday were wearing face coverings and kept the required safety distances, according to a joint press release by the Berlin police and the federal police.
However, a total of 67 administrative offence proceedings had to be initiated against people for not having a mask or refusing to wear one. Other proceedings were initiated for offences including insulting and resisting officers and forgery of documents.
As evening came, the focus of the operation shifted to bars and restaurants, most of which have to comply with an 11pm curfew. Between 6pm and 2am, police inspected a total of 66 restaurants and 1121 people. A total of 52 offences of non-compliance with the corona rules were recorded, as well as five criminal proceedings for offences including damage to property and insulting or assaulting officers.