For years, major German cities have been experiencing an increase in organized crime from the ‘rocker and clan milieu,’ a sector of conflict between the Hells Angels biker group and a criminal Middle East clan. In Duisburg, this confrontation reached a new peak on the evening of May 5th, when 80 to 100 people were involved in a shootout at the Hamborn Altmarkt in Duisburg. At least 19 shots were fired in the confrontation between Hells Angels and members of a Lebanese gang. Four people were injured, some seriously. The police arrested 15 people, but they were released after the police announced that they were “not cooperative.”
The conflict was likely triggered by the expulsion of a Lebanese man from the Hells Angels rocker gang, after he was accused of having denounced other members of the Hells Angels to the police. The Lebanese, humiliated by the expulsion, demanded to meet with the head of the Duisburg Hells Angels.
This meeting, to which both sides had arrived with more than 40 people, escalated into violence at 8:40 p.m. Fifteen people were arrested shortly afterwards; a raid of an extended Lebanese family’s premises, however, was unsuccessful in locating the other members involved. During interrogation, all of the suspects remained silent, so that the police released them a short time later.
Although clashes between rival gangs in Germany are not uncommon these days, the escalation of violence is a major problem. “The fact that at least 19 shots were fired in the open street is not an everyday occurrence and is therefore all the more frightening,” said Duisburg police chief Alexander Dierselhuis.
A resident who wished to remain anonymous told the newspaper Der Westen in an interview: “I’m scared. Things like this happen here increasingly. There are often fights, brawls and police operations.” The resident was on the scene at the time of the crime and heard a man shouting “give me the gun” several times, as well as the voices of other men who were speaking Turkish.
In the past, the resident said, “it used to be really nice here.” Families would “go for walks and shopping.” Such normalities are now an uncommon sight. “I don’t really want to live here anymore. I don’t feel safe, and these incidents confirm that it’s just dangerous here for normal citizens. I just want to get out of here,” the resident said.
Already in 2018, there had been a similar confrontation at the Hamborner Altmarkt when nearly 100 people had attacked each other with metal pipes and machetes. At that time, however, no shots had been fired. Another resident confirmed this to Der Westen: “This happens so often here. Everything is going down the drain. Those who can move away do so and are lucky. The rest are just unlucky.”
Such escalation, however, is not only noticeable in Duisburg. At the end of last year, there were similar exchanges of fire in neighboring Dortmund when two families, each of whom runs a snack bar, came into conflict with each other over the price of a kebab. At one snack bar, the kebab cost €3.50, while at the other snack bar it cost €4. Since the cheaper supplier did not want to adjust its price, the families went at each other with kebab knives and firearms.