BERLIN: German police on Wednesday raided homes of climate activists known for their controversial street blockade protests that Chancellor Olaf Scholz has blasted as “completely nuts”.
The raids were ordered in an investigation targeting seven people aged 22 to 38 of the Letzte Generation (Last Generation) group, as Germany toughened its stance against their eye-catching action.
Gluing themselves to roads, flinging mash at masterpieces and blocking airstrips — the activists have in recent months split public opinion with their protests to push authorities to do more to combat climate change. Wednesday’s raids were part of a probe over suspicions that the activists were “forming or supporting a criminal organisation”, said a joint statement by Bavaria’s police and prosecutors. Fifteen properties were searched, two bank accounts seized and an asset freeze ordered.
The suspects are accused of “organising a fundraising campaign to finance further criminal acts” for the group via its website.
At least 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million) had been collected, said the authorities, adding that “these funds were, according to current information, mostly used for the commission of further criminal acts by the association”.
The authorities did not specify the “criminal acts” to which they were referring but said two of the suspects are alleged to have tried to sabotage an oil pipeline between Trieste, Italy, and Ingolstadt, Germany, deemed “critical infrastructure” in Bavaria.
The group’s spokeswoman Carla Hinrichs, described the moment when she found police storming her apartment and an officer “wearing a security vest pointing a weapon at her”.
“I’m afraid that this state is sending its civil servants with weapons drawn to storm my apartment. But I’m even more afraid that it is letting us speed into this (climate) disaster without doing anything,” she said in a clip on Twitter. The group vowed to continue with its tactics, announcing protests in several cities later on Wednesday.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023
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