Berlin park creates 'pink zone' spaces for drug dealers to carry out transactions

‘This method has purely practical reasoning behind it,’ says park manager

Adam Forrest
Friday 10 May 2019 01:32
Pink line marking drug deal zone inside Goerlitzer Park
Pink line marking drug deal zone inside Goerlitzer Park

Drug dealers in Berlin have been given designated sections of a city centre park to conduct business in a bid to keep them away from families and joggers.

Cengiz Demirci – manager of the popular Goerlitzer Park in the fashionable Kreuzberg area – said the pink lines had been spray-painted around sanctioned drug zones to let everyone know where purchases could take place.

Mr Demirci claimed it would encourage people who had become intimidated by gangs of dealers back into the park. “This method has purely practical reasoning behind it. It’s not that we’re legalising the selling of drugs,” he told radio station RBB.

Both city and federal authorities strongly condemned the move. Germany’s drug czar Marlene Mortler lambasted the creation of special zones, saying it appeared to give people “license to trade”.

Berlin’s top security official, interior minister Andreas Geisel, said the park manager’s idea would not be adopted across the rest city. He said: “Police are fighting drug trafficking, including in Goerlitzer Park.”

According to The Local website’s German edition, drug dealers have not been paying any attention to the spray-painted lines in the park – known locally as the Gorli.

Yet Mr Demirci pledged to continue his experimental policy to try to tackle anti-social behaviour problems in his park, where clashes between competing dealers have been known.

Explaining many dealers were from west Africa – including some not allowed to work while waiting on asylum claims to be processed – the park manager said letting them to earn money legally would help address the issue. “Then 90 percent of the activity would stop here immediately.”

Goerlitzer Park in Berlin

A spokesperson for the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which employs Mr Demirci as the park manager, said: “It is the task of the park manager to find solutions to the conflicts in Görlitzer Park within the scope of his possibilities.

“The approach with the coloured markings on the sidewalks, however, is not coordinated with the district office and [the markings] will be well considered and discussed by the relevant committees.”

Kurt Wansner, a CDU politician representing Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg at the House of Representatives of Berlin, called the experiment “absurd”.

He said: “It is completely absurd and unacceptable for the district to promote drug sales and consumption in Görlitzer Park with its park managers. [The demarcations] torpedo all efforts to get the drug problem under control there.”

Additional reporting by AP

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