A few days ago, while my daughter Taliah and I were driving home from a late-night visit, she unbuckled her seatbelt and wanted to move to the passenger seat. I stopped. Her reasoning was that the police were apparently asleep – because we had just passed a dark-looking police station. At that moment, a police car drove past us.
If you walk, cycle or otherwise move through Munich in these spring days, it usually only takes a few minutes for them to appear. Police officers are standing, driving or riding through the city and its parks at every imaginable place. When I drive a car, I always have the feeling that there is a policeman behind the wheel two cars behind me. Somehow that unsettled me, but on the other hand it kept me alert on the street.
Where I come from, the police were usually to be found in certain areas. At well-known hotspots in major Ugandan cities. So sometimes it was easy to avoid them. But not in Munich.
Especially not now, when the temperatures are rising and the parks and floodplains on the Isar are full of people. With or without grill or other substances that emit smoke. During this time of year you can set the clock after that. The police will deposit your presence in passing. And sometimes officials can overdo it.
It was at Lerchenauer See in mid-April. I was one of the agitated and angry people myself. I was part of a company having a BBQ birthday party. Then suddenly the police show up. Everyone in the party was shocked by the number of police officers. They came with three full vans and two dogs. What they found: adults who either grilled, ate grilled food or drank beer. And children bouncing on a bloated miniature castle.
They immediately approached us and asked who was in charge of the party. She tells us someone called her: that there was a large crowd of Africans in the park, having “a very wild party”. This has stirred many of us tempers.
At such moments it can become problematic. Some of us were about to become rude to the police. A real big contingent for a perfectly normal family celebration on a Saturday afternoon? Nobody was particularly loud here. Which would not have mattered, in the middle of nature, far away from residents who could have been disturbed by any noise. We all agreed on one thing: what’s the point?
What should one think in such moments? Of course, people wonder whether the distribution of tasks among the Munich police officers has been thoroughly thought through. This Saturday it goes like this: The police officers quickly apologized to us. We should keep enjoying the party. Such courtesies from the police? Towards blacks? Now many of us were pleasantly surprised.