Police on Saturday, Sept. 23, raided the weekly Thai street food market in Preussenpark just as neighborhood politicians debate the popular event’s future.
About 20 police officers as well as code enforcement officers forced vendors to pack up their wares and leave the park in the western district of Wilmersdorf, confusing visitors and leaving them hungry, according to the Tagesspiegel.
“Five officers from the Ordnungsamt (code enforcement office) were there. I had no idea and it wasn’t on my behalf,” Arne Herz (CDU) told the paper. Herz is the city council member responsible for code enforcement.
The park was open again Sunday, albeit with fewer vendors.
The market in Preussenpark has grown in popularity in recent years and has been tolerated by local law enforcement despite protests from those living near the park, which is just north of Fehrbelliner Platz. Herz earlier in the week reportedly met with about 40 neighbors in the nearby office of federal politician Klaus-Dieter Gröhler (CDU) and, to appease critics, suggested reducing the scope of the market and installing a few permanent booths.
“It’s totally clear that it can’t go on like this,” Herz said during the event. “Nothing has been done for 10 years.”
The politician hopes to present a plan for the market’s future later this year. He admitted that one option is doing away with the market by regularly enforcing the city’s laws and regulations. Its popularity has worn paths in the park’s grassy area and visitors regularly leave trash in the surrounding trees and shrubs.
The market, known informally as Thaipark or Thaiwiese (Thai Park or Thai Meadow), likely goes against a number of laws, according to the paper, including commercial, hygiene and public-use laws.
Critics of the market say the anarchy that allows the street food market has also made a raised, wooded area adjacent to the market a popular area for drug dealers and users.
Both politician Herz and Berlin police confirmed Saturday’s raid was part of normal police activity and not a targeted move against the market.
Plans call for €500,000 to be spent on renovating the park in 2019, according to the Tagesspiegel.