The initiatives range from neighborhood watch groups to far-right groups that aren’t afraid to use violence.
Thousands of people have joined the Facebook group “One for all, all for one… Düsseldorf keeping watch.” According to the information on its page, the group says its mission is to watch out for “our women” in places where danger might lurk. The group plans to patrol together on weekends or at special events. “I don’t think that free people should have to be intimidated because they’re scared,” organizer Tofigh Hamid told German broadcaster Sat.1
Meyer-Plath said he is concerned with a group known as “Civilian Defense FTL/360” in the Saxon city of Freital, which has been in the headlines previously because of massive anti-refugee demonstrations. The group formed after two Moroccans reportedly harassed and beat up students on the number 360 bus, hence the name. Since then, members have been patrolling buses to “keep the peace.” One of the members of the “Civilian Defense Corps Güstrow” in the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is Nils Matischent, a representative from Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party, and a man with a criminal record. And in the Lower Saxon town of Schwanenwede, a group of “neighborhood watch guards” marched in front of a refugee shelter last fall.