Disrespectful behavior – police officer pulls climate activist by the hair

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Marina Hagen-Canaval of “Extinction Rebellion Vorarlberg” was successful several times with her complaint to the Vorarlberg Administrative Court against a police officer. On December 14, 2022, a civil servant for the protection of the constitution brutally ripped her hair to the ground during a protest in the Vorarlberg state parliament – now a hefty judicial reprimand followed.

On December 14, 2022, a group of “Extinction Rebellion Vorarlberg” in the spectators’ gallery of the Vorarlberg state parliament interrupted the current session and activist Marina Hagen-Canaval read a speech. A constitutional official then pulled her arm and her hair to the ground. Hagen-Canaval filed a complaint against this rough treatment and was now successful.

Criticism of brutal action
The Vorarlberg Administrative Court declared the measure illegal and sharply criticized the official’s disrespectful and humiliating actions. He would not have been authorized to intervene. His overzealous action is a violation of the principle of separation of powers. In addition, he violated “central guidelines for security organs in a state under the rule of law” with physical violence. And last but not least, Marina Hagen-Canaval’s human dignity would have been violated by his degrading behavior – especially since, as a woman, he clearly assaulted her violently by pulling her hair.

“Unacceptable Violence”
In their defense strategy, the Vorarlberg police tried to blame Hagen-Canaval for the “open way” of her hair. “What is a suitable haircut, please, so as not to be mistreated by the police?” the 27-year-old activist said indignantly. For them, the “unacceptable violence by the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution” is also a sign that the climate movement is generally rejected by government agencies.

However, state organs must be strictly neutral, especially when using coercive measures. The court states: “Especially when it comes to politically sensitive issues, such as the political statement here on climate change, it is essential that police officers avoid anything that could be interpreted as bias (…). The specific procedure (…) may give the impression that the police officer just kept pulling the hair of the prosecutor because she was politically active.” The Vorarlberg police will bear the costs of the proceedings. An ordinary review of the decision is not possible.

No place for hatred and violence
Angela Stellmacher of “Extinction Rebellion Austria” was very pleased with the ruling of the administrative court: “The decision shows: Hate and violence against climate activists have lost nothing in the behavior of representatives of the executive branch.”

Source: Krone

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