Climate Crisis Protest in Lützerath


Pamela Banchetti describes events in Lützerath – 14 January, 2023

Cologne – I have been living in Cologne for a little more than three years now. I have heard about Lützerath since the beginning, when someone showed me on Google Maps the “big holes” next to the city. “The big holes” refer to the three opencast   mines situated outside of Cologne (Hambach, Garzweiler, Inden) owned by RWE, the coal company against which we are fighting. The mines are so big you can see them from the satellites. I was shocked enough at the time, but I am a very naive dreamer and I can not fathom the extent of the hunger of capitalism. RWE has been trying to expand the mines extensively, clearing and destroying villages. The last one standing has been Lützerath. Activists have built tree houses and squatted in abandoned ones to stop the clearing. All of these actions have been going on since 2020 with the political support of die Grünen, the Green Party. But not anymore, the Green Party on the 1st of December has voted for the clearing of Lützerath and RWE has received full political and legal support to expand its ginormous mine and destroy Lützerath. The clearing was supposed to take place on January 10th. Protests have erupted everywhere, and activists have stormed Lützerath.

On January 14th 35.000 people from Germany and all over Europe reached Lützerath. I was one of them. I am ashamed to say that I am not an activist, but this is my experience. I tell it in the hope that more and more people keep protesting against RWE and the destruction of Lützerath and realities alike:

Travelling to Lützerath

Travelling to Lützerath

We attempted to leave Cologne Central Station around 11 am but (“seemingly” accidental) disruptions on the line reached the towns around Lützerath and the enormous amount of people that tried to board the trains caused various delays and routes were changed. We reached Erkelenz (10 km from Lützerath) around 1 pm where the activists had organised Shuttles to reach the protest. However, the amount of people and the amount of buses did not match, and a great storm of us marched the 10km on foot at the call of “Lützi bleibt, Kohle Stop” (Lützi stays, Carbon stops), under the rain and the very strong wind. Shuttles pressed with people as well as people on bikes, cars and big coaches coming from cities further afield passed us heading for the same place. The trail of people was infinite and it got more and more impressive as, one and a half hours later, we reached the protest. The protest took place in two stations, one with a stage where different characters of prominent climate movements, including Greta Thurenberg, gave speeches. Some food was organised, Music, Paramedics, etc. Further away from the stage in the direction of “the big hole” and Lützerath, the “illegal” part of the protest was taking place. As the police force with 15.000 men and women, weapons, cars, vans and a helicopter patrolled the field around the “big hole”activists used non-violent actions to push back the police force and regain ground. At the cost of a lot of physical violence from the police to the activist (body to body aggression, use of weapons, pepper spray and water hose) the activists managed to push the police backwards and gained a great amount of the field. At the same time, in the part of Lützerath that is still inhabited by the activists, the police continued very violent clearing activities. Apart from the tree houses and the Kayenberg Camp, in the last few weeks the activists built an underground tunnel where two of them are hiding. This action has the intention of slowing down the clearing as it will take a long time to clear the people from the tunnel. This action could have fatal consequences in case heavy machines are used around the clearing.

5.30 pm- the last Shuttles to the stations and the parking places were leaving by 7 and they were at least 5 km away. Most of us had to leave the protest. As we were leaving the ranks the police regained ground and on the way to the station we saw that more and more police patrols reached Lützerath. It takes a while to find the shuttle and the train is then full of people with muddy shoes, still singing that “Lutzi bleibt” (Lutzi stays). And so it is. Now it has been a few days and more clearings have continued to happen, but people still inhabit Lützerath, the Camp and the protests are still going on. Solidarity actions have arrived from all over Europe and the world, even from South America.

More actions are unfolding and resisting the destructive fire of capitalism. Support Lützerath, support Sacrifice zones.

Pamela Banchetti.


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