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Berlin: Extinction Rebellion Occupies Brandenburg Gate and Monbijou Park

In Berlin, the environmental group Extinction Rebellion occupied an intersection right next to Brandenburg Gate on Monday. Some two hours into the protest, police officers carried away participants. At the same moment, the environmentalists started occupying a different location.

Berlin, August 16th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — At Brandenburg Gate, police officers started carrying away participants of a protest staged by the radical environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion (ER) on Monday afternoon. They had blocked the intersection of Ebertstrasse and Strasse des 17. Juni some three hours earlier. It was their way to protest against Germany’s climate policies, which they criticize as insufficient.

Spontaneous Activities

ER had announced a “RiseUp” in advance, which was supposed to include “civil disobedience”. An intersection in Berlin was supposed to be occupied in order to disrupt traffic. But the organization did not volunteer information about the location at first, which is why the police prepared for spontaneous activities. Hundreds of officers raced to Brandenburg Gate when the protest commenced.

“Civil disobedience” is the name of the game. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

The ER protest at the important sightseeing spot coincided with a rally against the end of the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan since which the Taliban have recaptured Kabul and numerous other places. But the Extinction Rebellion crowd outnumbered the other protesters by far. Mostly very young Berliners took part in the demonstration by sitting down right on the intersection. They held signs with ER’s logo. One said “Climate crisis = mass murder”.

Dedication and Responsibility

At first, the Berlin Police Department seemed to be protecting the protesters. Later, they carried them away in order to reopen the intersection for traffic. While they did, more ER sympathizers occupied Berlin’s Monbijou Park located north of the Spree river, right in the city center. Attempts by ER activists to block more intersections in the ‘Mitte’ district failed because the police reacted quickly and prevented them from doing so.

Most protesters were very young. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

According Extinction Rebellion, the police made things difficult for the protesters. “We wish they would show this much dedication in the fight against the climate catastrophe”, a Twitter post read. The police are not responsible for climate policies though. Compared to some other major industrial nations, Germany is doing a lot against climate change, for instance by setting bold CO2 reduction goals. Besides, the country is dumping both coal and nuclear energy. The percentage of renewable energy used in Germany is quite high.

Protests All Week

In 41 days from now, elections for the Berlin Bundestag will take place. The Greens, who built their success on calls for strict climate policies, will likely get some 20 percent of the vote. Other major parties are trying to look green as well by voicing demands for a reduction of CO2 emissions. Fridays for Future, a movement organized by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, has been protesting a lot before the Corona crisis hit Europe. The more radical group Extinction Rebellion popped up later. In 2019, ER disrupted Berlin’s traffic by blocking intersections and bridges for an entire week. The ongoing ER protests are supposed to continue all week.

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