German police have carried out raids in seven states on climate activists suspected of forming or backing a criminal group because of their controversial activities. The group Last Generation, which has disrupted traffic in German cities, has been the primary target of the raids, including its spokeswoman, Carla Hinrichs. The police raids were aimed at establishing the group’s membership structure and freezing two accounts, among other actions.
The raids, which involved 170 police officers, took place on Wednesday, targeting flats and other buildings in Berlin, Bavaria, Dresden, Hamburg, and other places. Ms. Hinrichs’s flat in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg was targeted at 07:00 on Wednesday by 25 police officers carrying guns, according to her colleagues. The group’s website has been shut down.
Suspected Criminal Activities
Seven people aged 22 to 38 are suspected of organizing a campaign to collect at least €1.4m (£1.2m) in funding mainly to finance “further criminal acts.” Two of the activists under investigation are suspected of trying to sabotage an oil pipeline running across the Alps from the Italian coast at Trieste to Ingolstadt last year.
Last Generation’s Campaign
LastGeneration is campaigning for a speed limit on motorways of 100km/h (62mph) and has been disrupting traffic in German cities for months. Their street sit-ins have resulted in some drivers lashing out, with countless social media videos showing outraged drivers screaming at campaigners. However, some supporters online suggested the raids would galvanize support for their campaign.
Public Opinion and Political Response
In polls, most Germans disagree with the group’s tactics, with 79% of respondents in a survey carried out by left-leaning magazine Der Spiegel this month saying the group’s actions were wrong. However, this doesn’t mean all Germans support a clampdown either, with many left-wing and Green politicians arguing that activists should still have the right to campaign peacefully.
The police response has been welcomed by conservatives, as well as some politicians from two ruling parties, the FDP and centre-left SPD. Some Green politicians said while they disagreed with the group’s radical actions, they suggested the raids may have been too heavy-handed. Meanwhile, left-wing and environmental groups announced a march in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon, with further demonstrations in Leipzig, Munich, and Potsdam.
Climate Activism Across Europe
Last Generation is not limited to Germany, as two activists glued themselves to an area in front of the Austrian parliament in Vienna on Wednesday, defying a ban on protests outside the building. In Italy, three Italian activists were due in court on Wednesday for gluing themselves to a Vatican museum sculpture dating back to Roman times last August. Activists belonging to the group had also colored the Trevi fountain in Rome black as a statement against fossil fuels.
Climate activists around the world are raising awareness and initiating political action to address the critical issue of climate change. However, the methods used in their campaigns have been the subject of much debate and controversy. The recent police raids in Germany have highlighted the tensions between environmental activism and law enforcement, with both sides offering differing opinions on the situation. While some have welcomed the police response, others have criticized it as heavy-handed and an infringement on the right to protest. It remains to be seen how the situation will develop and how it will impact the ongoing climate activism movement across Europe and beyond.