Berlin officials were accused of playing bull bingo after trying to justify several city officials tearing down posters showing images of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.
At least three uniformed officers were caught on video removing signs sharing information about some of the approximately 200 civilians who were taken from Israel to Gaza by Hamas following its deadly Oct. 7 attack.
The posters were attached to an advertising column, which was understood to be owned and operated by Ilg-Außenwerbung.
The video, shared on social media, comes after police in London and Manchester were heavily criticized for removing leaflets showing hostages taken to Gaza by Hamas.
Berlin Police Chief Barbara Slowik defended the officers’ actions, saying the officers “apparently felt compelled to act” upon seeing the posters.
Officers reportedly removed the signs without being asked, a move that has angered many.
A police spokesman told German newspaper Tagesspiegel that the officers’ actions were based on “their own findings.”
The fact that removing the signs hurt feelings “affects me and I am very sorry,” he added.
It is currently unclear what reasons police used to justify removing the signs, and a police spokesperson told German newspaper Tagesspiegel that the officers’ actions were based on “their own findings.”
The spokesperson told the newspaper that there was no complaint that motivated the action, nor were criminal charges filed against the owner of the advertising column.
Berlin Interior Minister Iris Spranger tried to justify the measure of force by stating that the posters were torn down to preserve “security and order” as well as “social peace.”
He later admitted that “the effect of the action” was painful for the hostages’ families and said he regretted it “with all my heart.”
But officials were heavily criticized for the way police handled the situation.
A spokesman for the “Independent” police union, Jörn Badendick, accused Berlin officials of playing “bull bingo.”
‘An explanation that there was a miscalculation would be sufficient. “In the heated atmosphere surrounding the Middle East conflict, someone may have feared that someone would feel provoked by the posters,” he said. Tagesspiegel
Berlin’s ruling mayor Kai Wegner said BILD: ‘The impression that has been created is extremely regrettable. I have no doubt: our city and our police support the victims of terrorism and their families.’
Alexander J. Herrmann, legal policy spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union, stated: “In view of the numerous illegal signs without legal notice in the city and also in view of the existing discretion of officials, I am not convinced of the attempt of the Berlin police to justify this.
Media figures also attacked Berlin officials, with Die Welt political editor Frederik Schindler writing shortly after the video circulated: “This is absurd priority-setting and a capitulation to those who are bothered.” such posters”.
Social media users were furious with the Berlin police.
One person wrote on X: “The police are simply too cowardly to show civic bravery and independence.”
Another said: “This is called selective justice.”
The furor in Germany comes after British police launched an investigation after an officer was seen tearing down Israeli hostage posters in Manchester, announcing that he “regrets any offense caused”.
Footage showed a police officer, believed to be part of the Greater Manchester police force, tearing down posters of Israelis held hostage after being kidnapped by Hamas.
In the video, the lone officer, believed to be part of the Greater Manchester Police force, is seen removing a row of signs one by one, apparently ignoring calls from distressed passers-by on Bury Road in Prestwich.
Footage shared online showed the lone officer tearing down leaflets of those abducted by Hamas on October 7, apparently ignoring calls from distraught passersby questioning what they were doing.
A woman is heard shouting: “Why are the police tearing this down?” Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me’, receiving no response as she walked along Bury Road in Prestwich.
The force has now confirmed that an investigation is underway and will work to ensure posters can continue to be displayed.
Deputy Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry told MailOnline: “We know that the ongoing conflict in the Middle East is causing great distress to members of Greater Manchester’s Jewish community and our thoughts remain with them at this time.”
‘The force has increased engagement with representatives, including the Community Security Trust, to ensure they feel heard and understood by GMP and to ensure their safety within the city and our neighbourhoods.
‘We share the concerns raised regarding the removal of posters in the North Manchester area and can confirm that an investigation is underway.
Residents of the area, home to a large Jewish community, quickly reacted to the video, calling the officers’ actions disgusting.
Video widely shared on social media showed two officers standing outside Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, with leaflets showing the missing innocent civilians outside the building.
Fury erupted in north London after Metropolitan Police officers removed posters of kidnapped Israeli children to avoid inflaming tensions.
‘The action taken last night, in response to complaints, is contrary to guidance the force had already issued to staff in relation to the overhead poles. We will continue to work with local authorities and the community to ensure signs can be displayed. “We regret any offense caused.”
It comes a day after two Metropolitan Police officers were seen tearing down leaflets, revealing those taken out of Israel during the barbaric Hamas attack on October 7, outside Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London.
Some residents of the area, which is home to a large Jewish community, have criticized the officers for their “disgusting actions.” But the Met has insisted they were simply taking action to “stop the escalation of problems” and “avoid community tensions”.
In a statement, the force said the missing posters were posted in “retaliation” for comments about the war between Israel and Hamas – including calling Israel and the IDF “filthy animals” – that were posted online by an alleged member of pharmacy staff. . Police said a printout of the comments was also posted outside the store.
MailOnline has contacted the Berlin police and Ilg-Außenwerbung for comment.