Cops Confront Thunberg Over Coal Mine Controversy

Climate activist carried away by police after they say she wouldn't leave protest in Germany
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2023 10:00 AM CST
Cops Carry Thunberg Away From Coal Mine Protest
Climate activist Greta Thunberg stands under police guard on the edge of an open mine in Erkelenz, Germany, on Sunday.   (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

For at least two years, climate activists have converged upon the German village of Luetzerath to protest a planned razing of the town to make way for the expansion of a nearby coal mine. This weekend, perhaps the most famous climate activist of our time showed up in solidarity at the North Rhine-Westphalia site, and then got taken away by police, reportedly for refusing to leave. Per Politico, 20-year-old Greta Thunberg first arrived Saturday at a rally outside Luetzerath to support fellow activists pushing back against the expansion of the Garzweiler coal mine, calling the arrangement between mine officials and the German government "shameful."

Thunberg came back to the site the following day, where she sang and danced with other protesters—until the cops showed up and told them all to leave. Per the German newspaper Bild, police say Thunberg refused to comply, and so two officers picked Thunberg up and carried her away. Police say a dozen people in total were arrested or taken into custody over the course of the evacuation, and that 30 or so service vehicles were damaged in the demonstration.

Police also say that about 70 officers were injured as they tried to evacuate protesters, and that nine activists were taken to the hospital in an ambulance, though police claim no one was seriously hurt. Protest organizers, however, say some of the demonstrators were critically injured. The day before she was taken away from the site herself, Thunberg had condemned "police violence" in the evacuation, per the BBC. Police responded to her claim by noting she'd never tried to speak to them personally about what was happening at the site, though it's not clear if she did so when she was confronted on Sunday. (More Greta Thunberg stories.)

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