On March 24, 2012 the body of a young girl who was raped and murdered, was found in a parking garage in Emden, Germany, a town with about 50,000 inhabitants, many of whom knew the victim. Following information from a witness a 17-year-old student was arrested, because he had “behaved suspiciously. Via Facebook and various Internet forums a public anger arose and, among other things, threatening crowds appeared at the suspect’s parents’ house and at the police station where he was being held. The boy turned out to be innocent in the end and, using DNA material as evidence, the real culprit was found and arrested.
Photographers Tinka and Frank Dietz, who have worked together for years, used this event as a case study for The Rise of Populism in Europe. They have investigated the developments surrounding the case and view it as a ‘defining populist moment‘. They have tried to take all the populist aspects that, in their opinion, belong to this case in order to give them a visual translation. For example, they scrutinized the social media upheaval, which led to a gathering of a group of people who wanted to take the law into their own hands and lynch the suspect. The defiance against public establishments such as law enforcement authorities and conspiracy theories about these institutes are also part of their visualizations. Just like the persistent prejudiced ideas about minorities and the powerful role of the media in this: the indicated suspect was black and his identity was immediately disclosed in order to make speculations.