By Alagie Manneh
In a scene reminiscent of the deadly arrest of George Floyd in the US, plainclothes police officers in Germany overpowered a naked Gambian man at a crossroads in Offenburg, a city in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
The video footage showed two officers manhandling the 31-year-old mentally unstable Gambian with one of them kneeling on his neck. He eventually passed out and was rushed to a special clinic.
The incident sparked anger among Gambians and rights groups in Germany who planned to demonstrate demanding justice for the unnamed man, Germany-based Gambian activist Yahya Sonko said.
The public prosecutor’s office in Baden-Württemberg has released a statement, saying it is “intervening” in the matter, to “examine the actions of the officials”.
In a statement sent to Südwestrundfunk medium, spokesman Kai Stoffregen said they will examine “whether the actions of the officers in the context of the arrest constitute an initial suspicion of a criminal offence”.
He added that “it must be clarified in advance” whether the arrested man had been injured or physically impaired by the actions of the officers. “It will then have to be examined whether the acts are covered by the right of arrest,” Mr Stoffregen wrote.
He said his office cannot give a preliminary assessment of the matter as all circumstances are yet to be established. “This is especially true for the use of the knee on the neck. There are still no reliable findings on the extent to which the man suffered physical impairments as a result and how long the corresponding situation lasted.”
The Gambian was heavily drunk, according to Mr Sonko. In the video, he only had socks on, held a purse in his left hand and a juice bag in his right hand.
“The police said he was under the influence of alcohol. What happened to him was totally unacceptable. We feel it is racism.
We are resolved to get to the bottom of this so that it will not happen again, not only to Gambians, but other migrants in Germany. It was reminiscent of the way George Floyd was arrested and killed in the US,” Mr Sonko told The Standard yesterday.