I feel I need to record this.
The experience of walking to the späti (convenience store) in Berlin at night on Rigaer Straße. There are dozens of riot police in full gear on the street between me and the späti. It's an almost everyday occurrence. It's is so weird, and yet over the years has become so normal. Nothing is really going on, but here they are. Full riot gear. Some of them with their visors up, smoking cigarettes.
I walk past the riot police one way, going to the späti, and then back again on my way home. They all watch me, in full stormtrooper gear. It is absurd. My life is absurd. This is old east Berlin and the cold war is over, and yet on this street, there is still a war being fought.
The reason the police are here is because of the occupied building opposite my home. Rigaer Str. 94. Left extremists, Antifa, punk rockers. Beside the main door is a plaque to commemorate the life of Ernst Pahnke, who once lived there and was killed by Nasis for being anti-fascist. This is the heart and soul of the old wild Berlin. Sometimes they play loud music, sometimes they play outdoor Bingo and invite the neighbourhood to take part. It's great! I enjoy it. I feel in solidarity with them.
But apparently, the city feels that they need police oversight.
This is the last bastion of the old ways, the wild, wild Ost (east). And here we are. The police watch me as I come and go, they take note.
Gentrification will win one day, but not without a fight. I love my neighbourhood, but I know it won't last. Things change. Gentrification will win. I hate it. I wish things could remain the same, but ultimately I know they won't.
I sometimes wonder if I will miss the riot police when it's nothing but baby strollers, boutiques and cafes. Time will tell.