I wrote this on the morning of the 27th of July and I am absolutely fascinated by how much has shifted in myself since then. Reading this, I feel no pain or irritation whatsoever, in fact a lot of the questions I pose below have received clear and profound answers. I will share these in a later post that I will hopefully write up today at some point.
Here is what happened on the morning of the 27th of July at the Berlin Hauptbanhof Train Station
“So I’m travelling to Stuttgart and I went to the train station SUPER early as my train was meant to leave at 6:37 in the morning. There is a special on at the moment with DB (Deutsch Bahn) which says that you can travel with more than 1 person on a cheap ticket. Cheap being 42 eur and an additional 6 eu for every additional passenger. Essentially meaning that a ticket to Stuttgart could cost me around 13 eur. A real bargain. The guy at the information desk of DB suggested that I stand at the entrance of the ticket office with my sign which he wrote for me in German. I did that.
As I was standing there 2 police men approach. They were about to walk past and then one of them turned to me and asked me for my passport. So I asked him why he wanted my passport and he said “We’re doing a police control”, as internally annoyed as I am I give him my passport, he asks me where I’m from, I tell him “From South Africa as you can see in the passport”, he paces around for a while (I’m very aware that he’s looking for my visa for Germany), so eventually I ask the other police man if that is what he is looking for and he says yes, so I take my Swedish residence permit and Visitors permit out and hand it to him.
He radios someone and then calls someone, next thing you know, another police approaches, this time it’s a woman, she arrives “at the crime scene” – seeing as that’s what they were treating it as! And offcourse me; the criminal ,the main part of this very important and vital investigation. The woman police came to get my passport as well as my residence and visitors permit. She leaves without saying a word, so I ask where my documents are being taken to and one of the policemen turns to me and responds in German “immigration control”, so I keep quiet, realising what a silly and un-true answer this was. So later on after numerous phone calls and many many conversations in German amongst themselves, I say “excuse me, what is the confusion?” and he says to me “LISTEN, this is a police control”, “I understand that but I’m asking what the confusion is here” I re-iterate and he responds “ Look, this a a police control, just SHUT UP!”.
You see, those last 2 words at the end of the sentence are what pushed my main button, here I am standing with a sign in German in Berlin Hauptbanhop, a tourist. Just that. A tourist. And I am being told to “SHUT UP” when asking what is happening concerning my paperwork, my possessions and essentially my freedom of movement. To be told to “Shut Up” when I am doing and saying nothing rude or out of the ordinary is totally out of line. Especially by someone who’s job description includes “protecting and serving civilians”. In fact even if I was being rude he had no right to tell me to “SHUT UP”.
After about half an hour, the woman police returns with my passport and permits. I am so upset at this point, that I am telling the policeman who told me to shut up, how distasteful, unnecessary, rude and power-misusing he was being. I could see him getting worked up. His colleague seemed uncomfortable, he was younger and had purer eyes. I could see that he was deliberately avoiding eye contact with me. He was new in the game and this arrogant policeman was his trainer.
I remember at one point there being a passenger needing help on something, a German word or a platform number – I’m not sure what. The arrogant man responded by saying that he was a policeman and not information personnel, there is something of thinking and truly believing that he is superior in that statement. Above me, above that passenger, above the personnel at the information desk. He was a policeman – some skewed understanding of what his role and job meant.
Offcourse I was here legally and the woman police returns with my documents and the police man says a very in-genuine and slimy “thank you” , as he hands me my papers back I move my hand back and look him in the eye and once more express that him telling me to “SHUT UP” was just not right. The woman policeman, without knowing anything of what had happened, skews her face and says to me “What’s your problem?” in a disgusted and very matter-of-fact tone of voice , it was like a scene from a movie I would call “guilty until proven guilty”. I felt oppressed, unheard.
I eventually opened my palm and took back my documents.
They walked away speaking in German and I imagine discussing how annoying I was being and whatever else. Because they looked smug and arrogant, smirking as they spoke, turning around to make sure I saw how much they didn’t care how I felt.
I was so internally shaken that I had to have some sort of release, despite trying to fight the feeling my emotions erupted through tears, I cry when I am angry because it’s such a powerful emotion and I often don’t know how to release it either than through crying.
After my release, a woman who had been sitting with her daughter nearby “the scene of the crime” walked over to me and gave me a pack of tissues. She understood, without openly saying so, I know she was saying “I understand”.
Later on, the woman police and another older man, I think the supervisor walks past, and I wave him over to express how much I did not appreciate being spoken to as I had been when there really was no valid reason to feel that way.
Lo’ and behold this man, the more matured and fermented slime-ball he was, looked at me as I was speaking to him, as if I smelt like poop. You know? He even looked ugly. I realised in that moment that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I could say or do that would get them to understand what I meant and why I hated being told to “SHUT UP”.
I think anyone who reads my blog and who has ever met me, knows how good I am at expressing myself. I am clear. In that moment I was very clear and as unemotional as possible in expressing my distaste of being told to “SHUT UP”. He continued looking at me as if I smelt bad, looking progressively ugly. He eventually said, “I don’t understand what your problem is” (Seriously?), the woman policeman then contributes to the conversation by speaking something in German. A lot of “something” and I ask her to please speak in English because I don’t understand what she is saying and I am standing there, a part of the conversation, the very reason for the conversation.
The conversation then took a downward spiral (upon retrospection I am happy that I released when I did) , she said that it was Germany and so she would speak German, she asked me what I was doing in Germnay “anyway” and why I was here “without any money” and the male police man chipped in by saying something about my race, there it was. I had not said it, he did. I responded but didn’t put any more effort and energy as was necessary.
This is what I want to say following all of this.
How am I expected NOT to walk around with a chip on my shoulder when this is the kind of treatment and comments I am met with when I am being open and simply moving through life?
Why do German people and other Europeans not need a VISA to visit places such as South Africa but I need one to be here?
Why does my financial situation concern them so much? Is it really adequate reasoning for proving that I am deserving to be anywhere?
What is the job of policeman and women? (I actually asked them this numerous times and they were unable to answer)
Why the FUCK do borders exist?
Why does power and control turn people into irresponsible, over-bearing, power-hungry monsters?
Why is it possible that ANYONE can at some point in life hold that much power over others?
Why is there constant camera surveillance, what is being watched and monitored really?
What is Facebook REALLY and TRULY about?
Why is money the ruler of our souls?
How can Africans (and other more brown people) stop feeling inferior when so much of so much is designed to make us feel inferior?
More importantly, why am I here and enduring this harshness, what are these experiences coming to me to bring forth?
What wants to come of the combination of these unpleasant experiences?
I would like to end with this, I am free, I will always be free, there is not a single human being in this world who can take that from me, ever. I felt that so strongly when the policemen were ‘doing their job”.
I am the master of my faith.
I am the captain of my soul”
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, a lot has changed in myself since this happened, I read this and feel close to nothing, but I wanted to share this story anyway because I know that there are people out there who have endured this kind of pain and perhaps this is that little rope they need to feel that they are not alone or to begin to explore other possibilities of freedom. Because I truly believe and now KNOW that there is not a single person on this planet that can actually really take away my freedom. It is mine and that is not negotiable.