In Germany, the authorities criminalize the radical environmental movement Letzte Generation

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By John

A level has been reached in the standoff between the German authorities and the radical environmentalist movement Letzte Generation (“last generation”). On Wednesday May 24, the police searched fifteen homes and offices in seven Länder because of “suspicions of offenses committed by members of Letzte Generation” as part of an investigation for “training or support of a criminal organization”, said the Munich prosecutor’s office.

Seven people are targeted by the procedure. Aged between 22 and 38, they are suspected of having “advertise on the Internet” And “organized fundraisers” of a total of 1.4 million euros with the intention of “committing criminal acts”. Two of them are more directly suspected of having attempted, in February 2022, to sabotage the pipeline linking Trieste, Italy, to the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt.

Founded in 2021, Letzte Generation has become known for its spectacular actions: hunger strikes, throwing mash on the window protecting a Monet painting in a museum in Potsdam, intrusions into airports leading to the interruption of air traffic , disruption of sporting or cultural events… In recent months, its members have multiplied roadblocks and blockades of streets in several large cities, most often by sticking their hands on the asphalt. In Berlin alone, 2,525 legal proceedings were opened against activists of the movement between January 2022 and February 2023. While most received fines of a few hundred euros, three of them were convicted in April , to three, four and five months in prison.

Faced with this organization, which claims 1,200 “active supporters” across the country, the government is struggling to show a clear line. Within the “traffic light” coalition of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz (SPD), the most severe are the Liberals (FDP), starting with the Minister of Justice, Marco Buschmann, for whom the actions of these young activists are a reminder “the street battles that took place in the years 1920-1930 in Berlin, when far-left and far-right activists felt entitled to outlaw themselves to impose their own ideas with their fists”.

“Totally dumb”

Very different is the tone adopted by the Greens. “When you’re 17 or 22, you want a lot of things and sometimes in a radical way”said their main minister, Robert Habeck (economy), recently, while calling on the members of Letzte Generation to “to find forms of protest capable of rallying a majority of people rather than locking oneself into a niche”. Between the severity of the liberals and the indulgence of the ecologists, Mr. Scholz chose a middle course, consisting in condemning the methods of the organization without criminalizing it: “I find it totally stupid to stick to a painting or bitumen”said the Chancellor on Monday, traveling to a school in Brandenburg.