Climate activists hinder a rescue operation by the Berlin fire brigade, a little later the Munich police take dozens of activists into custody for 30 days as a preventive measure. The debate about the radical protest actions of the “last generation” is coming to a head.
Since the beginning of the year, climate activists of the “last generation” have been blocking motorways and main traffic arteries in major German cities. They are protesting against the climate policy of the SPD-led federal government, which they have criticized.
In the protest group there are like-minded people for whom the actions of “Fridays For Future” do not go far enough. A radicalization of the protest was the declared program of the group from the beginning.
This is also shown by the fact that the activists occasionally even target pipelines. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, some of them temporarily shut down an oil pumping station in mid-October and stuck to the system. And a mashed potato attack on a work of art by Claude Monet in a Potsdam museum also caused harsh criticism.
However, the events of the last few days have given the debate about the “last generation” a sharpness that has never existed before. The 30-day “preventive police custody” that the Munich police pronounced against twelve activists caused heated political discussions.
These had repeatedly blocked a street in downtown Munich last Thursday, which had led to major traffic jams. According to the Bavarian Police Tasks Act (PAG), such a measure may only be enacted if this is essential to prevent the “imminent inspection or continuation of an administrative offense of considerable importance to the general public or a criminal offence”.
The PAG is highly controversial in Bavaria, and the Greens have filed a lawsuit against the law with the Bavarian Constitutional Court. Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) defended the detention to the “Bavarian media group” and explained that a “dangerous breach of the law” must be “legally pursued with all consequences”.
The Greens, on the other hand, generally demand a maximum duration of preventive detention of 14 days. Apparently, there has never been such a long, preventive deprivation of liberty in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Just four days earlier, a tragic traffic accident between a cement mixer and a cyclist in Berlin had triggered a fierce public controversy about the radical protests of climate activists.
The activists had nothing directly to do with the accident on October 31 in Wilmersdorf. However, the deployment of a rescue vehicle from the fire brigade, which had been called to the scene of the accident, was delayed because it got stuck in a traffic jam that the activists had caused with an adhesive blockade.
Berlin’s fire department spokesman said this himself on the day of the accident and left open the extent to which this could have influenced the rescue of the accident victim, who died in a hospital on Thursday.
A few days later, a report from the fire brigade came to the conclusion that even if the rescue vehicle had arrived on time, it would have had no effect on the care of the accident victim. The prosecutor is investigating.
Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of Germans condemned the radical protests of the “last generation”. According to a representative survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of the “Augsburger Allgemeine”, 81 percent of those questioned consider climate protests such as road blockades to be wrong.
86 percent also stated that the activists are damaging the cause of climate protection with their disruptive actions. Only seven percent consider this form of protest to be useful.
Climate Alliance itself, on the other hand, reported on its website on Monday about further protest actions in both Munich and Berlin and called for support for the activists in their protests – “despite the threatening gestures of politicians”.
An 18-year-old student named Maria Braun was quoted as saying about the renewed protests: “I will not be intimidated by threats of 30 days in prison. My life and only the life of my entire generation is at stake. I can’t help but resist now.”
Christoph de Vries, interior expert of the CDU, warned against underestimating the radicalization potential of the “last generation”. “There is no longer any differentiation from left-wing extremist groups.”