Stehen bleiben! Polizei!

I was in Aachen over the weekend and had found an interesting little art gallery, Article 5 (Article 5 is the chapter in the German constitution that guarantees freedom of speech), near the main train station. It was around midnight Friday night, and the owner was just now leaving although it closes at 8pm. She noted the opening hours on Saturday, and I decided to drop in. There was an artist there and some other folks and we had a very good discussion about government surveillance and about how Orwell's 1984 has a lot of meaning today, if people would only read it. We discussed the police state that is growing in Germany, looked at some of the art work, discussed it, and then I was off in search of a nice place for breakfast (very hard to find in Aachen, but I was successful).

As I step out the door of the gallery a loud voice shouts "Stehen bleiben! Polizei!" (Stop where you are, police) and three large male cops come thundering down the street. I freeze. Didn't realize the gallery was bugged..... but they were not after me, they shouted again as they passed, a policewoman running behind them. I scanned the street below me for Terrorists (tm) or other criminal elements. I didn't immediately see anything that registered high on the scale, although there was an elderly couple with a dog. Maybe they forgot to pick up the dog poop.

Across the street a young man, perhaps 20, German-looking with clean cut hair and neatly dressed, had frozen and taken out his wallet. The two girls who had been looking into the store window took a few steps back. The young man now had red spots flush his face as the police patted him down and cuffed him with a cable binder. One of the cops had a dozen or so cable binders under his epaulet.

The woman stepped out and motioned to a waiting police car that came driving up the street from the other direction. This had been a large hunt to capture this young man. But what might he have done? Stolen something? Taken some fingerprints maybe? Was he planning on overthrowing the government? Did he not pay his tuition fees? What on earth could he have done to demand this amount of police interest? I scanned the online Aachen newspapers in the evening, but there was no mention of any arrests.

A day later I am still unsettled by this. I tried to find something in the police blotter, there was just a reference to them capturing a 31-year-old druggie who had tried to stab a child at a subway station and slashed some tires. That would explain the police mannerisms, but the guy didn't look 31 or drugged.

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