The police clear the occupied town of Lützerath. The activists thrown out by the officers arrive in neighboring Keyenberg. Three tell Focus online about their experiences.
For the activists, the rapid successes of the police in clearing Lützerath mean that their resistance in the coal village has come to an end for the time being. And that the energy company RWE will probably soon get hold of the coveted, climate-damaging lignite.
On Thursday morning, a group reaches the specially set up shuttle point in neighboring Keyenberg and the temporary camp “Our Camp for All”.
Shortly before, emergency services carried them and around 120 other activists out of the Eckhardtshof and dropped them off on the country road. “It was the craziest experience of my life,” says student Leo, who, like the rest of the group, wishes to remain anonymous.
The student and her comrades-in-arms describe the last few hours as a rollercoaster ride of emotions: solidarity with one another, nervousness, waiting for hours for the police to arrive – and saying goodbye to the hamlet they have come to love.
Relief at the peaceful end is currently mixed with “sadness and disappointment that it happened so quickly,” says Suki, 26. She is also disappointed with the rest of the climate movement, Leo adds. “If more people had been there, we would have had a lot more can do more.”
In the case of Karl, 28, the frustration is primarily directed at the politicians who laid the foundation for the evacuation of the coal village. “The police officers are simply a tool of the rule of law to enforce interests,” he says.
But in this case it was not in the interests of the majority of the population. He understands all the less that these decisions are also based on questionable reports: “You look at it and think you’re in a bad movie.”
However, such emotions have receded into the background in the past few hours. Since Sunday, the group with little activism experience has been preparing for the eviction, building barricades in addition to everyday tasks.
There was a consensus decision: no violence. Even the members who were ready to actively defend themselves would have let themselves be persuaded and realized: “We are not fighting against just any person, but against a system that is driving us to ruin.”
According to Karl, this fight is also being fought for the police officers, their children and friends. “For peace and not violence,” he notes.
It is important to know that the activists in Lützerath did not organize themselves centrally. Instead, various barrios formed, Spanish for quarters, which organized themselves and made their own decisions.
The three reject the fact that others chose violence – from stone-throwing to firecrackers to Molotov cocktails – as a form of resistance.
“These are individuals, we are not a homogeneous group,” quotes Karl from a conversation with a police officer. In the same way, his group tries not to hold the entire institution responsible for police violence.
Overall, relatively little violence emanated from the activists, so the focus should not be here. “Rushing and polarizing creates fronts that we are currently trying to dissolve,” says Leo.
Although the eviction was peaceful in the end, they experienced the two faces of the police themselves. A police officer threatened the seated group: “We can carry you out, but then we cut off backpacks and take nothing with us and use pain grips,” says Suki.
The latter also happened to one group member simply because he stuck himself. A colleague has at least revised for the others that the activists can take everything with them. “They’re all human,” sums up Karl.
The activists also experienced fearful moments before they had direct contact with the police. “We sit on our hay bales and they come with chainsaws and start cutting things up,” Leo describes the minutes.
They warned officials that the attic was covered with hay and a spark could ignite it. Overall a tense situation. On the other hand, Leo tells of a high on Wednesday evening.
An activist who was being pursued by the police was able to find refuge with them. “He throws himself on the floor and everyone cheers,” Karl describes the moment when the door closed again in front of the emergency services.
It is also this sense of community and life that the activists in Lützerath leave behind. Nevertheless, they also draw courage from their action. “It is right and important that we fight to make the world a fairer one,” says Suki, focusing primarily on the Global South.
She considers the current situation unsustainable. Civil disobedience is therefore a legitimate means for them. Suki is also important in creating new narratives and a positive view of the future.
With activism, she also wants to motivate those around her and show: “Everyone can work for their ideals and goals.” After all, without such commitment there is no hope.