Criticism of pre-judgements

Tagblatt 23/03/28 | ST‘ edition, 28.03.2023, page 17

After Basiru Jallow was stabbed in the old botanical garden rumors started to circulate about the background. Assessments by experts, associations and those affected.

Over the weekend, numerous flowers were laid down and candles placed in the Old Botanical Garden in Tübingen. Image: Ulrich Metz

After Basiru Jallow was stabbed in the old botanical garden rumors started to circulate about the background. Assessments by experts, associations and those affected.

On Thursday, a 23-year-old man was stabbed in Tübingen’s Old Botanical Garden and died of his injuries only a short time later. Shortly after the crime became known, different speculations, accusations and criticisms rapidly spread.

Public interest
Police spokeswoman Andrea Kopp seemed unimpressed by the extent of rumors when addressed by the local newspaper TAGBLATT, „Speculations made by the population are normal. However, this has no influence on our work.“ She emphasized that the police is currently investigating the motive of the offence in all directions. There are still many unanswered questions.
On Saturday, the responsible judge issued an arrest warrant on suspicion of manslaughter against a 27-year-old accused man. He is currently remaining silent on the accusation. Kopp understands that the public interest in this case is very high, „We are talking about a criminal act that happened in public space and in broad daylight. This has caused a high level of uncertainty amongst the population.“ That’s why police and prosecutors had finally decided to release details about the victim and the alleged perpetrator on Saturday. „To clarify that this was not a coincidental act, but that the two men had known each other personally.“ In such cases, the public interest takes precedence over victim protection, stated Kopp.

Criminal relevance?
Prof. Dr. Jörg Kinzig, Director of the Institute of Criminology at Tübingen University, is also following the current case. The way he sees it, the police and the public prosecutor’s office have so far handled the situation responsibly. However, he pointed out, that this is not the case concerning numerous statements made on social networks, especially about the victim and his putative connections to Tübingen’s drug scene: „The internet is not a lawless space, and in case of some comments, we have to question to which extent they might be relevant under criminal law.“ Strictly, disparaging statements about deceased persons could fulfill characteristics of Section 189 of the German Criminal Code, which states „whoever disparages the memory of a deceased person shall be punished by imprisonment of up to two years or be punished with a fine.“ Kinzig emphasized, „Nothing is yet known, at least not publicly, about the motive of the crime. Even though the victim was already known to the police, this does not legitimize any conjecture. Anyone who makes dishonourable allegations for which there are no evidence at this point in time, can be reported by the relatives of the deceased and under certain circumstances also be punished.“
This applies as well to office holders, such as mayor Boris Palmer, he said: „Regardless of any moral evaluation, he is moving on thin ice here, when he should actually be bound by his duty as a mayor to behave with reservation.“ However, Kinzig noted, that in fact paragraph 189 is considered quite uncommon amongst criminal lawyers. „I’m not aware of any cases so far in which there has been a conviction in a similar case.“

Apology demanded
„I think it’s a shame that the municipal leader has not yet reached out to the family of the man who had been killed“, said Josephine Jackson, co-founder of the anti-discrimination association Adis e. V. and member of the local activist association Black Visions and Voices. Further she said that Palmer instead instrumentalizes the death of Basiru Jallow for his own asylum political agenda, even before people could mourn Jallow’s death and before he could be buried.
A press release by adis e.V. demanded an apology from Palmer – or that he should remain silent at least. „I am 100 percent certain that if a white professor had been killed, Palmer would have reacted differently,“ Jackson said. „In that case, his first reaction wouldn’t have been investigating what this person had done wrong in his life.“ Palmer’s reaction, she said, was a textbook-like racist reflexes; it is „obvious that – because it is about a Gambian man – Palmer perceived him as a second-class human being.“
The anti-discrimination expert emphasized in which way it is fatal that Palmer’s framing puts the victim of a violent offence under general suspicion: „The person killed is immediately turned into the perpetrator by the mayor – and along with him the entire group to which he belongs.“
At the same time, Palmer reduces the young man to his otherness: „Palmer always talks about a Gambian man, a refugee. But this man who was killed was a Tübingen resident who had lived here for many years.“ From Jackson’s perspective, it’s accurate to say that Palmer is engaging in anti-black racism. „With regard to the city of Tübingen, you could also say it’s anti-Gambian racism.“ She – and Tübingen’s black community – fear that Palmer’s statements will increase hostility toward black people online and on the streets.

Fear of attacks
Mafoday Cham, an entrepreneur from Ammerbuch who himself comes from Gambia and has lived in the Tübingen district since 1995, shares these concerns. „You don’t know with which kind of racist people Mr. Palmer’s statements will end up with“, commented Cham. „He creates an image that black people in the park are automatically drug dealers. That’s hideous.“ What Palmer is doing with this, „is nothing but racist agitation“, said Cham.
He himself enjoys taking his children to the playground in the park. Now he is concerned that he and his family could also be classified as drug dealers if he spends time there.
The message that is passed through to the Gambian community, is that the mayor would tolerate black people being stabbed in the park, Cham said. „The one who perished now also has relatives and friends. They are panicking now.“
In Germany, there are thousands of Gambians, „most of them don’t even smoke cigarettes and have never drunk alcohol in their entire lives. They go about their work, try to integrate, are active volunteers, and get involved with society“, Cham said. „They definitely don’t want to have anything to do with anything illegal.“
Cham points out, that fighting drug trafficking is important. But in order to do this, Palmer should start elsewhere, instead of making sweeping generalizations, as per Cham. „I want a mayor for everyone – who doesn’t implement populist policies in Tübingen. Who doesn’t increase the gap between citizens.“ Tübingen is actually a cosmopolitan city, thinks Cham. Migrants felt very much at ease here, he notices – “until now.“

Donations for the corpse repatriation
The Asylzentrum
Tübingen e. V. is collecting donations to support Basiru Jallow’s family to repatriate his corpse to Gambia. The call for donations is organized by Ruben Malina, street worker at the asylum centre Tuebingen. Basiru Jallow was one of Malina’s clients. In consultation with other local social associations, the asylum centre was designated as the central recipient of donations. Although Malina has only called for donations via a post on his private facebook account so far, almost 2150 euros have already been collected. According to a first estimate, it would need about 4500 euros. Malina will receive and know a more exact estimate of costs soon.

Malina warns that there are a number of „freeloaders“ who collect donations via platforms such as the website gofundme. There is no control over those, and it is uncertain whether the money will actually reach Jallow’s family. Malina plans to hand the collected money directly to a funeral parlour. If the collected money exceeds the costs of the funeral, he plans to give the excess to the victim’s mother. If the donation goal is far exceeded, he said, people can also contact the asylum centre and get their donation refunded.
Donations can be made at: Asylzentrum Tübingen e. V.; Kreissparkasse Tübingen; IBAN: DE85 6415 0020 0000 7428 94; BIC: SOLADES1TUB

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