July 25, 2010

THE LOVE PARADE CATASTROPHE, OR: TO WATCH A COVER-UP IN PROGRESS

Wie SPIEGEL ONLINE erfuhr, wurden bei der Bundespolizei inzwischen sämtliche Unterlagen zur Love Parade - Einsatzbefehle, Lagemeldungen, Karten - von den Computern der Beamten sowie aus deren E-Mail-Accounts gelöscht. "Da kam sehr schnell der ganz große Staubsauger", sagte ein Beamter, der sogar eine konzertierte "Vertuschungsaktion" im Gang wähnt.
For those who cannot speak German, this Spiegel article makes the claim that after the horrendeous catastrophe at the Love Parade yesterday, during which 19 people died and almost 350 were wounded... the cover up by our "good friends" at the police is in full progress.

That's right. Every memo, ever piece of communication, every email regarding the Love Parade and the handling by the police has been apparently deleted from the police servers. And why should we be surprised?

According to numerous eye witness accounts, the police did not help duing the stampede, but continued to fence the panicking ravers in, not allowing them out of their "designated zones", even as many were trying to get over the fences and find higher ground for safety.

At least one eye witness account I saw on television today claimed that police officers threatened the use of gun fire on the ravers if they didn't retreat from the fences. Gun! Fire! Now they know how the 3rd class scum on the Titanic must have felt, right?

And all over sudden, there hadn't been 1.4 million people there as had been previously claimed by the city and the Love Parade management. All over sudden the police is no longer capable of giving a rough estimate of people attending, something they had always been able to do in the past, during concerts, shows and demonstrations.

Suddenly, the number is 105,000, for – so they say – this is the number claimed by the German Bahn (Train). Suddenly...

... because there is a document by the city that allowed only 250,000 people into the area. Suddenly, there is a document that frees the Love Parade management from keeping in line with the fire and safety regulations. Suddenly, we find out that this catastrophe could have, would have, should have been avoided, if people in power had not been careless, retarded and greedy for fame and reputation.

Suddenly, we find a "panic expert" named Michael Schreckenberg (and I won't even go into how ironic that name is) on television, standing there as an ostensibly unbiased expert and scholar... only to find out a mere couple of hours later that it was exactly this man who had been part of the Love Parade's management's atrocious security plan. Something that he merely forgot to "mention" during his defense and defensive interviews, hoping and counting on a rapid news cycle and reporters who wouldn't do their research.

Suddenly, facts and figures have started to disappear as everybody in charge is running with their hands covering up their asses.

Suddenly, we not only find that there was a catastrophe yesterday, we not only know that 19 people died and almost 350 were injured... suddenly we find ourselves as observers of a cover-up in progress.

Police files? Deleted.

Number of attendees? Hell, don't ask us. We're the police. We don't do that shit, unless we do, which is all of the time. Wait. Did we mention that we seem to have lost all of our relevant data? Damn computer viruses, eh? What can you do?

Fire and safety regulations? Not enforced.

The behaviour by the police forces during the panic? Inexcusable.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how it looks like.

A cover-up in progress.

[UPDATE] Since the Spiegel updated its story, it is only in the interest of fairness and accuracy to include such update in this blog as well.
Hinweis der Redaktion: In einer ersten Version dieses Artikels hieß es, von Rechnern der Bundespolizei seien Unterlagen zur Love Parade gelöscht worden. Dies ist nach unseren Recherchen auch der Fall - in mindestens einer Dienststelle, aber nicht unbedingt flächendeckend bei der gesamten Bundespolizei. Wir bitten, die Ungenauigkeit zu entschuldigen. 

In other words, the deletion did happen, but apparently was locally (in what station, I would have to ask?), while the central servers of the Bundespolizei still hold documents regarding the Love Parade. The question then becomes, where there files and/or documents that were only stored locally? Are all stations centralised in their file storage? Considering earlier reports on the connectivity between police stations, that is highly unlikely. And even if all files were to have back-up copies on central server banks, the fact remains then that at least one police station willingly deleted all files thinking they could cover up... something.

[UPDATE] The newspaper Kölnische Rundschau has come into the possession of an internal document by the Duisburg fire department, dating back to October 2009 that foresees the exact catastrophe, telling the politicians and organisers that they had grave security concerns. 
Köln - DUISBURG - Die Macher der „Loveparade“ waren gewarnt. In einem internen Vermerk der Berufsfeuerwehr Duisburg an Verantwortliche der Stadt stellten die Retter bereits im Oktober 2009 klar, dass sie enorme Sicherheitsbedenken bei der Durchführung der Massenveranstaltung hätten. Ein Branddirektor machte in seiner Mitteilung deutlich, dass es zu gefährlich sei, die Besucher des Spektakels durch die langen Tunnels zu schicken. „Es wurde nicht reagiert“, sagte ein Beamter der Kölnischen Rundschau. Auch der Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Duisburg soll von diesem internen Vermerk gewusst haben.
The article also claims that the Duisburg mayor had been informed about these security concerns. Nothing happened. Nothing at all.

Now the law suits are happening. The first few have been filed this morning. One by the former Chief of Police of the city of Bochum, who – when he was presented with the potential organising of the Love Parade in his city in 2009 – declined, citing the lack of wide open spaces needed to hold such an event with security risks, essentially doing what Duisburg should have done.

Another lawsuit has been brought forth by a fireman, who had warned the organisers and the politicians and was not listened to.

None of which will bring the 19 dead back to their families, friends and loved ones. None of which can change anything that has happened. But maybe, just maybe... these law suits will expose all the right people. Maybe there will be the truth, then.

Maybe there will be justice for once.