The city of Cologne has announced they will be handing out “respect” wristbands to encourage understanding between individuals on New Year’s Eve and prevent the kind of sex attacks that occurred in 2015.
The wristbands are part of a new campaign called “respect” which is sponsored by the city government and controversial Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker. Many have slammed Reker and the campaign on social media likening it to comments she made shortly after the 2015 attacks calling on women to keep men at “arm’s length”, Kronen Zeitung reports.
At a press conference, Reker said that the campaign would focus on telling people not to sexually attack others or shoot fireworks at individuals, buildings or police. The wristbands themselves are meant to inform others to be respectful when approaching the wearer and prevent potential sex attacks.
On social media, some users reacted to the move with scorn and criticism. One user asked the city of Cologne and Mayor Reker, “What are you doing? Is this appeasement, a gesture of submission or the self-stigmatizing of a culture that is surrendering?”
On New Year’s Eve around 3,000 police are expected to be on duty in Cologne as well as 400 employees from private security firms to maintain order.
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Cologne police chief Uwe Jacob said, “We expect a similar occurrence as in the previous year,” and noted that police were prepared for drunken party-goers adding, “I do not care about the nationalities of the revellers, with all due respect. The rules apply to everyone.”
Last year the Cologne police dramatically increased their presence and the level of security around the central Cathedral which led to a rapid decline of sexual and violent incidents.
Despite the decrease in the number of crimes from 2015, which saw over 1,000 incidents, police were accused of racial profiling because they labelled suspects from a migrant background “Nafris” which was seen as a slur toward North African migrants.