“This society cannot allow its safety to be undermined by the actions of such vehicles.”
Berlin, December 21 – Following the murder of 12 people and the injury of dozens more when a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital, authorities moved to place severe constraints on the freedom of movement enjoyed to date by undocumented vehicles.
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the restrictions today during a visit to the wounded victims at area hospitals. She declared that trucks, especially, would be the focus of the new measure, given the involvement of that type of vehicle in Monday’s attack and the even bloodier attack in Nice, France, earlier this year in which more than 80 people were killed.
“We cannot allow such dangerous vehicles to roam our streets unchecked,” stated a grim Merkel. “We owe it to the victims of this crime to take drastic measures so we can protect our society and its freedoms from the murderous whims of a ten-ton lorry. This may constrain the liberty of some trucks, but this country, this society, cannot allow its safety to be undermined by the actions of such vehicles.”
The new measures call for undocumented trucks to be identified and tracked by the Ministry of Transport, but that office currently lacks the budget and personnel to conduct effective monitoring. Merkel intends to request funds from the European Union, but the success of that request is not guaranteed.
“Funding is tied up in numerous projects to integrate undocumented trucks into European society,” explained European parliamentarian Forrest Fürthetrijs. “It remains unclear where the monies would come from to underwrite Ms. Merkel’s program. I might suggest, however, that singling out trucks will only drive them, as it were, into the camp of the radicals by creating an us-them dynamic. We should be aiming at inclusiveness.”
Fürthtrijs cited studies pointing to the association of other vehicles with the far right, and not painting trucks as the sole vehicles of destruction. “The obvious example would be tanks,” he observed. “I don’t see the chancellor announcing any new restrictions on the movement of tanks, and they, historically, have had much more of a deadly impact.”
German officials briefly floated the notion of treating the driver of the deadly truck as the responsible party and bringing him to justice, but rejected that approach when police reports made it clear the driver at the time of the rampage was likely a Muslim immigrant, and focusing on him would only serve to exacerbate already-fraught ethnic tensions.