Is it illegal to lock police officers in?

Anyone who expresses themselves negatively about the police in general does not automatically constitute a criminal offense. This emerges from a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court. Specifically, the case concerned the public display of the letter combination ACAB as an abbreviation for "All Cops Are Bastards". The judges decided that it was not yet a criminal insult to the police. A conviction presupposes that the statement refers to a manageable group of people, it was said to justify. (Az. 1 BvR 257/14 and 1 Bv)

The Constitutional Court has overturned judgments against two football fans for insulting. One of them had the legible letters ACAB on his pants and ran past riot police on the way out of a football stadium. In the second case, a fan had held up a corresponding banner in the stadium during a soccer game.

Covered by freedom of expression

The judges now pointed out that the statement initially only expressed "general rejection of the police and a need to distinguish themselves from the state regulatory authority" and to that extent was still covered by the fundamental right of freedom of expression. An insult only exists when the slogan "personalized" is addressed to a manageable and delimited group of police officers.

The court reaffirmed its standards for so-called collective insult. In its "Soldiers are Murderers" judgment of 1995, Karlsruhe decided that the disparaging expression referred to all soldiers in the world and was therefore not suitable for affecting the personal honor of the individual.

The police union (GdP) sharply criticized the "ACAB" decision and described it as a "slap in the face" by police officers. In view of the growing violence against police officers, the decision was "the wrong signal to the wrong people", explained GdP chairman Oliver Malchow (whether violence against police officers is actually increasing is controversial. More on this here).

© SZ.de/AFP/dpa/feko/kjan