Lützerath: Police satisfied with the evacuation so far
According to the police, the evacuation of the village of Lützerath is going according to plan.
The protests were “predominantly peaceful”, but there were also arguments at the beginning of the operation. Minister Habeck and the federal government defended the eviction.
So far, the police are “very satisfied” with the course of the evacuation in Lützerath. In the early afternoon, a spokesman said: “So far everything is going according to plan for the police. After a certainly mixed start this morning, where we also saw some stone throwing and Molotov cocktail throwing, I would say: The situation has calmed down significantly.” So far, he has no information about injured police officers, the spokesman said. He could not say anything about possible arrests either.
In the morning, the police had started to clear the lignite village of Lützerath, which was occupied by climate activists. It was completely surrounded, no one could get in or out without authorization, they said. The energy company RWE, which wants to excavate the coal from under the town, has already started erecting a one and a half kilometer fence around the town. Later, RWE wants to demolish the houses and streets of the village.
Police: “Mostly peaceful protest”
At the beginning of the eviction, the police had given the occupiers an opportunity to leave the site without criminal charges. According to the police, many of them took advantage of this: “Above all, we expressly welcome the fact that a large number of activists have decided to leave the area peacefully and without resistance,” the police spokesman continued.
But some activists persisted. “People are determined to persevere, to protect the trees and the buildings,” said Mara Sauer, a spokeswoman for the “Lützerath Lives” initiative. Some activists had climbed onto tall monopods and tripods — trunks tied together with platforms — that morning. They had been erected in the past few days to make it as difficult as possible for the police to get to the activists.
Around noon the officials began to get squatters off the racks with hydraulic platforms. “We have experienced predominantly peaceful protests here, in sit-ins, on tripods – and these are forms of protest with which we are very prepared,” said the police spokesman. Even with barricades, some of which are concreted in, attempts are still being made to hinder the operation. Police officers began to remove these with the necessary equipment. Wooden huts built by the activists were first cleared by the police and then destroyed. Individual activists accompany the scenes with guitar and piano music.
First buildings cleared
Officials have also been clearing the first buildings since midday. As WDR reporters report, the officials brought activists from a former agricultural hall. This is said to have been the communal kitchen of the activists. However, the police have not yet penetrated into the occupied houses themselves. There, further barricades and devices are expected to complicate and delay the evacuation.
Rocks and pyrotechnics thrown
In the morning, at the beginning of the operation, violent clashes also broke out: protesters threw stones and pyrotechnics and occasionally Molotov cocktails in the direction of the emergency services. According to police estimates, there should be around 300 to 400 activists in town – ten to 15 percent of them may be violent, as a WDR reporter on site reported.
According to the police, there were also small children in Lützerath at the time. “Due to the far-reaching dangers in the area of operations, the Aachen police are appealing to the legal guardians to leave the area immediately with their children,” she wrote on Twitter.
Thunberg expected to further protests
Even if the evacuation of the place progresses, the police expect a long operation – up to several weeks. A demonstration has been announced for Saturday, to which the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is also expected. Protests against the eviction of Lützerath have also been announced in other German cities these days, for example in Munich and Hamburg.
Habeck defends Lützerath eviction
Economics Minister Robert Habeck defended the evacuation of the village: “In my view, the empty Lützerath settlement, where nobody lives anymore, is the wrong symbol,” said the Green politician, whose party has been particularly criticized for the use. Other places that are still inhabited would no longer be dredged. So far there have only been scuffles between the police and demonstrators, added Habeck. “Leave it at that – from both sides.”
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit criticized for the federal government that there was violence during the evacuation: “There was resistance today and also riots during the ongoing evacuation of the village. The federal government expressly condemns this violence,” he said. There is a “clear legal situation in Lützerath. And that has to be accepted.”
NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul also sharply criticized attacks on police officers: “I’m actually just stunned and don’t understand how people can do something like that,” he said. The peaceful activists should now protest somewhere else: “You can demonstrate somewhere else, you don’t have to help them by standing there and disturbing the police at work.”
Journalists are said to have been disabled
The journalists’ union dju criticized the fact that reporters’ free reporting had been restricted by the police and RWE security forces. After the first four hours of the eviction, the union drew “a first negative interim balance of press freedom,” tweeted Jörg Reichel, managing director of the dju Berlin-Brandenburg. He supports the work of the media representatives on site and monitors the situation. Journalists were denied access to the deployment area, and police officers are said to have asked a photographer to delete pictures.
BUND and celebrities call for an eviction stop
The nature conservation organization BUND called for the evacuation and the police operation to be stopped. “The state government in North Rhine-Westphalia and its Green Economics Minister Mona Neubaur must finally realize that they have gone astray politically,” said BUND chairman Olaf Bandt. The protests showed that “continued in opencast lignite mining is no longer accepted, especially by young people”. The managing director of the BUND in NRW, Dirk Jansen, explained that the “coal under Lützerath is not needed to deal with the current energy crisis.” It is therefore a political decision whether the eviction will be stopped.
In an open letter, more than 200 celebrities called for the eviction to be stopped. The signatories include the actresses Katja Riemann, Thelma Buabeng, Pheline Roggan, the actors Peter Lohmeyer and Robert Stadlober as well as the bands Sportfreunde Stiller, Deichkind and Revolverheld, the pianist Igor Levit and the influencer Louisa Dellert. The letter states that the mining of coal in Lützerath is “not just a question of the existence of a village, but a cause that is of global and climate policy trend-setting importance,” reported the “Spiegel”.
Court confirms residence ban again
The Aachen administrative court had previously confirmed the legality of the order in two summary proceedings, which is intended to clear the hamlet for lignite mining. The climate protectors have again failed in court with urgent applications against the ban on residence and entry. (AZ.: 6 L 16/23 and 6 L 17/23).
The climate activists in Lützerath have been living in the empty houses for months. The village is part of the 43,000-inhabitant town of Erkelenz in western North Rhine-Westphalia. The hamlet, located in the middle of fields, is now located directly on the edge of the Garzweiler lignite opencast mine. The coal underneath is to be mined to generate electricity.
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