Berlin, It’s 2020. Do Not Shut Down Black Spaces!

photo: Spyrosdrakopoulos / CC BY-SA.

YAAM, the unique cultural place on the banks of the Spree by Ostbahnhof offering space for BPoCs living in Berlin, was forced to leave its premises this week – regardless of its legal context or intentions, there has never been a worst moment in history for the public the authorities will suddenly close a dark place!

The stability of the bank wall, on which the site is built, could no longer be guaranteed – said an official static report. While legal justifications may make things seem a little slower – closing a club space on more than lucrative real estate … we’ll all assume one thing, right? – however, the timing of these events almost seems like a pretty bad joke. Like – the one who instructed YAAM representatives to clear its interior spaces – “You read the news, right ?!”

“We have only had a few hours to clean our offices and interiors,” said a YAAM statement on Instagram, “We have not had access to YAAM premises since Friday.” While adding a more detailed press release illustrating the year-long problems with the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district administration which led to the sudden closure of the place.

For more than 25 years, YAAM has offered a unique cultural center that invites visitors far beyond the borders of Berlin through club parties, concerts, markets, food and drink. The project has great social and cultural relevance for the city of Berlin and in particular for many otherwise excluded individuals and minorities – guaranteeing up to 80 jobs and various freelance positions.

Its closure is a new shock for the already threatened space which must fight against the consequences of the Coronavirus pushing cultural industries to the brink of mass extinction. But in light of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States against – again – the systematic oppression and police brutality (- well -) spreading in the prevailing global consciousness, the hasty actions of local government do not seem not only reckless but insensitive, and let’s just say that: pretty silly!

After the immediate public outcry from local and national news such as TIP or TAZ, it is not surprising that Florian Schmidt, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg building consultant, issued an official statement trying – as they say – to pour oil on troubled waters: “YAAM is an important cultural and identity place and we, as a district administration, support this institution”, says the press release, and he continues: “The preservation of open spaces and cultural facilities is a priority for me. This is why we have worked intensively with YAAM representatives to ensure its protection. (…) Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg without YAAM is out of the question for me. “

Real political will or just empty phrases that sound good on paper? It just seems suspicious that it was the same Florian Schmidt who made the headlines of the local newspapers to block negotiations with the neighboring cultural institution Holzmarkt for several years. A new statement from YAAM explaining their version of events is also to come.

The area around Ostbahnhof has been subjected to a brutal and absurd real estate frenzy in recent years, which has resulted in a range of concrete shoeboxes ranging from Schillingbrücke to Berlin’s most hated Mercedes Benz Platz – a piece of capitalist nonsense and probably Germany’s biggest failure in modern town planning to date.

And one thing is clear: this is not the time to close one of the only spaces that keep this part of Friedrichshain vibrant around hotels and office complexes. And this is especially not the time to take a space for blacks and people of color in a city that promotes itself for tolerance and diversity.

Ultimately, the real question to ask is: why is there no a YAAM?

Diesen Artikel auf deutsch lesen.

by Andy
July 2, 2020
in clubs

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