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Berlin: Radical Environmentalists Attempt to Block Government Quarter

A group of environmentalists known as ‘Last Generation’ glued themselves to streets around the Reichstag building today. They wanted to protest against the German government’s environmental policy.

Berlin, March 18th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — On a rather busy Friday in Berlin, the police were all over the government quarter. Because 25 protests had been registered, and for safety reasons, access to the Reichstag was blocked. The historic building houses the Bundestag, where the MPs were supposed to deal with the new Infection Protection Act today.

‘Last Generation’

Only a few steps away, in front of the chancellery, some Robin Wood activists staged a protest in the late morning. Using colors of some kind, they wrote these words on the pavement: “Dare more progress? Fail.” The part about more progress is a quote. The newly elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz had made an announcement of this kind three months ago, but Robin Wood does not think he lived up to it. When this registered protest was over, police officers forced the six participants to remove the text. It took them half an hour to scrub it away.

Raúl Semmler was pulled off the street by police officers. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

They were not done cleaning up when the next group of environmentalists started an unregistered and far more spectacular protest. Up to 100 activists who are part of the organization ‘Last Generation’ blocked several streets, including the intersection of Scheidemannstrasse and Yitzhak-Rabin-Strasse as well as the one of Ebertstrasse and Strasse des 17. Juni, right in front of Brandenburg Gate. This protest was just what the police needed on a day like this one.

Glued to the Street

At Scheidemannstrasse, die activists entered a blocked area and glued themselves to the street. It took only seconds until officers ran towards them because they knew they had only seconds to act before the glue would dry up. They pulled the ‘Last Generation’ members off the street, put hand cuffs on one of them and insisted press representatives had to leave the street. The Berlin Spectator’s reporter, who was taking pictures of all the activity, was pulled off the street by force, by two overzealous cops whose numbers he will pass on to the Berlin Police Department’s press office.

‘Last Generation’ members are blocking a street between the Reichstag and the chancellery. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

One of the protesters, Raúl Semmler, had glued his right hand to the pavement. When he was sitting there, on the side of the street, and once the handcuffs were removed, he said his hand hurt but “pain is a small price to pay considering we are the last generation who can still do something against climate change, because the government is not doing its job”, he said. “They failed to apply the necessary changes, and we are moving towards our demise, famine and violence.” He said the war in Ukraine was related to those problems.

‘Right to Resist’

‘Last Generation’ is not the first group of its kind that tries to disrupt traffic in Berlin. Raúl Semmler stated it had the right to resist because this was about “your life, my life, our families’ lives”. Before Corona hit, a group called Extinction Rebellion had pulled off similar activities. They blocked important intersections in Berlin’s eastern city center, but apologized later because a majority of Berliners was annoyed.

The activist Raúl Semmler said a hurting hand was a small price to pay. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

According to ‘Last Generation’, its people blocked five spots around the government quarter on Friday. This was about protesting against the ‘traffic light coalition’, Scholz’ government, which involves his center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the left-wing Greens and the center-right Free Democrats (FDP). It has been in office for 100 days now. “In spite of the ongoing climate crisis and a war that is being funded by oil and natural gas exports, the coalition has not done anything to prevent a climate catastrophe from happening”, a statement by ‘Last Generation’ read.

Germany’s Role

Germany intends to dump nuclear energy by the end of this year. Its coal phase-out is supposed to happen until 2038, the latest. Until 2045, Germany is supposed to be climate-neutral. At this stage, Germany, one of the major industrial nations, causes some 2 percent of the worldwide CO2 emissions and it is one of the most active ones in the fight against global warming.

On Friday, the government quarter was blocked by the police. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

To groups like ‘Last Generation’ all of this is “not doing anything”. To some, their protests are legitimate. Others say they should choose legal means, for instance by working in political parties or by organizing legal rallies, and stop acting like wannabe revolutionaries.

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