Protest village: Lützerath: tense atmosphere before expected eviction

protest village
Lützerath: Tensed atmosphere before the expected eviction

Heavy clearing vehicles remove the barricades erected by climate activists in the presence of the police. photo

© Thomas Banneyer/dpa

The clearing of the protest village of Lützerath could begin in the morning. The police are already removing barricades today. Activists are fighting back with all their might. A foretaste of the coming days?

Shortly before the evacuation of the village of Lützerath in the Rhenish lignite mining area, which is expected on Wednesday, the mood has heated up noticeably. The police cleared away barricades on the access road, which outraged the climate activists. The police appealed over loudspeakers: “Do not attack the police forces! If you attack the police, you can be prosecuted!”

Occasionally there were fisticuffs. In several rows, activists braced themselves against the emergency services, people pushed and shouted. An activist with blood on his face said he injured his nose while being carried away from his sit-in. The police used a lifting platform to get two activists down from a so-called monopod, a kind of high seat.

According to Aachen’s chief of police, Dirk Weinspach, the forthcoming evacuation of the protest village is one of the most challenging operations in recent years. He confirmed this on Tuesday evening at an information event with around 300 participants and representatives of the police and district of Heinsberg. The Aachen police are in charge of operations. Representatives of local initiatives called for a moratorium on the evacuation of the small town. Many also questioned the opinions on which the use of the site for brown coal mining is based.

“The police have now advanced massively and pressed massively,” said Johanna Inkermann from the “Lützerath Lives” initiative. “But we won’t let ourselves be pushed away. It’s an extremely dynamic situation.”

In the morning, around 300 activists had formed human chains in a confusing formation and set up a sit-in blockade, in which some of those involved had dug themselves about half a meter deep into the ground. “It’s about blocking the access to Lützi,” said an activist.

“Protecting the climate is not a crime!”

Among other things, the activists shouted “Get lost!”, “Shame on you!”, “On the barricades!” and “Protecting the climate is not a crime!”. The tone towards the police was sometimes aggressive, the atmosphere heated. Most activists were masked. Some spoke English, others French, Italian or Dutch.

The energy company RWE wants to excavate the coal lying under Lützerath – for this purpose the hamlet in the area of ​​the city of Erkelenz is to be demolished. Since Tuesday (January 10th), the police have been able to clear the village due to a general decree from the district of Heinsberg. However, the Heinsberg District Administrator Stephan Pusch (CDU) initially wanted to inform about the eviction and the associated police operation in the afternoon.

Left leader Janine Wissler expressed support for the activists in Lützerath. “It’s so absurd what’s happening here. What money, what effort to dig out coal in 2023, which according to studies is no longer needed,” said the member of the Bundestag of the German Press Agency.

In protest against the attitude of the Greens, a Düsseldorf coalition unloaded 250 kilos of lignite briquettes in front of the North Rhine-Westphalian party headquarters. “We wanted to show the Greens the mirror that they are no longer the climate protection party, but the coal party,” said a spokesman for the alliance.

Aachen Police President: Are well prepared

Climate activist Luisa Neubauer criticized the police strategy as not particularly peaceful. A peaceful evacuation had been announced by politicians, but what was happening on site was “pretty much the opposite of that,” said Neubauer on Deutschlandfunk.

The responsible Aachen police chief Dirk Weinspach, on the other hand, told the television station Phoenix that he and his colleagues approached the operation professionally and were well prepared. Expect a deployment of up to four weeks. He expects a variety of forms of resistance. In addition to barricaded houses, there are around 25 tree houses from which protesters have to be taken safely, which is technically complex. The police want to take de-escalating action. However, it is clear to him that there is a small group among the protesters who are ready to use violence. In his estimation, the impending evacuation is one of the most challenging operations in recent years.

The energy expert Claudia Kemfert from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) spoke out against the excavation of the coal under Lützerath. Otherwise, the 1.5-degree target cannot be met, she warned. “The decisive factor is not the coal phase-out date, but the remaining CO2 budget – and that will be significantly exceeded.” The Greens argue that in return for the excavation of the Lützerath coal, the phase-out of coal was brought forward by eight years to 2030.


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