German police raid Last Generation environmental protest group

BERLIN — German police launched a sequence of raids early on Wednesday throughout the nation in opposition to a group of local weather activists recognized for attacking artwork and gluing themselves to roads to boost consciousness.

The searches focused 15 properties throughout seven states, linked to members of the “Letzte Generation” (Last Generation) group. Seven suspects aged between 22 and 38 years are being investigated on suspicion of forming or supporting a prison group, police stated.

The suspects are accused of organizing a fundraising marketing campaign to finance prison actions, promoting them on their web site and gathering at the very least $1.5 million in donations to date.

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“These funds were, according to current information, mostly used for the committing of further criminal action of the association,” police stated with out specifying the character of the “criminal action.”

Last Generation, which has been condemned by Germany’s environmental Greens Party, gained prominence final 12 months with a wave of food-related climate protests — together with throwing mashed potatoes at a Monet portray in Potsdam’s Museum Barberini. Activists have additionally glued themselves to roads, and even runways to disrupt visitors.

The protests intention to attract extra consideration to local weather change by acts of civil disobedience.

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from the Green Party, which is within the ruling coalition, has described their techniques as “unhelpful” and “downright wrong,” whereas Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week stated the group’s strategies are “bonkers.”

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser informed German media shops that authentic protest ends when crimes are dedicated and different folks’s rights could be violated. “If this red line is overstepped, then the police must also act.”

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Two of the suspects arrested Wednesday are accused of planning to sabotage an oil pipeline between the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt and the Italian port of Trieste. The pipeline is deemed a essential piece of infrastructure within the southern German state. Prosecutors additionally confiscated accounts and secured belongings through the raids and the group’s web site was shut down.

According to the prosecution, the proceedings had been initiated “due to numerous criminal complaints from the population that have been received since mid-2022.”

In a information convention held by local weather activists on Wednesday, Aimée van Baalen, a spokeswoman stated the group will “continue to resist.”

“The need to resist is not diminished by criminalization,” she stated, including that so long as the federal authorities flouts the legislation, activists will proceed to train their proper to peacefully protest.

Last Generation says it needs the federal government to submit an in depth plan on how Germany can meet a goal of limiting temperature will increase to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 levels Fahrenheit) above preindustrial ranges.

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Germany’s capital, Berlin, the place the town’s justice minister is deciding whether or not the Last Generation is a “criminal organization,” has turn into a selected focus in latest months, with the group saying they wish to “bring Berlin to a standstill.”

Scenes of irate motorists utilizing violence in opposition to sitting protesters have turn into a each day prevalence. Those who’ve glued themselves to the tarmac usually need to be dug out by police utilizing drills.

The Last Generation’s disruptive techniques have sparked debate in Germany in regards to the efficacy of such protests within the struggle in opposition to local weather change. Dozens of activists have been introduced earlier than the courts in latest weeks because of the visitors blockades. Many obtained fines, whereas others have been sentenced to jail for as much as 5 months.

As the local weather disaster gathers steam, activists round Europe are fiercely debating techniques, with some teams interesting to moderates, whereas others undertake extra radical motion. Extinction Rebellion, the Britain-founded group that gained notoriety with eye-catching stunts, has shifted its focus.

In April 2019, the group held a sequence of protests in London that noticed greater than 1,000 arrested, whereas this previous April, they staged one other protest in central London the place nobody was detained. Organizers saying they wished to deal with “attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks.”

Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

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